The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) is proposing the re-opening of fast food outlets as part a staggered approach to kickstart business activity in the wake of the extended coronavirus lockdown.
The organisation which represents various sectors of the economy said on Friday the industry which employs more than 150 000 people, already operates under strict hygiene and safety standards that are in line with the regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly virus.
One of the conditions put forward by SACCI is that retailers could start making use of delivery services, drive-thru, followed by takeaways, or call and collect, conducted under strict physical distancing regulations. No sit-downs would be permitted, it said.
“Allowing them to go back to work under these strict conditions releases the pressure on the SME relief support measures and UIF funds.”
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SACCI stated that fast food outlets are a “good responsible choice to slowly bring back business” as they provide employment to large numbers of people.
The suggestion comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday evening announced the extension of the lockdown period which was supposed to come to an end on April 16. The lockdown will now expire at end of April.In his address, Ramaphosa said government would evaluate measures to allow for a phased recovery of the economy.
The economy is already buckling under the strain of the lockdown which kicked off on March 26 and shut down key industries. Since the lockdown, government has come up with various measures aimed at supporting businesses hit by the impact of the unprecedented shutdown, which include a relief fund for the tourism sector as well as small and medium enterprises.
SACCI believes that allowing fast food retailers to operate will reduce pressure on the support interventions provided by the state and that the sector would be used as template for unlocking other industries.
Yum! Brands, the owner of KFC, had earlier indicated the lockdown period presented uncertainty for the group, but the group said it ensure that staff members at KFC receive their full salaries in March and April despite the lost business days.
Other, small operators, however, have not ruled out the possibility of jobs cuts, as they battle to survive the financial impact of the lockdown.