SOUTH AFRICA – South Africans who had hoped to be able to order meals from their favourite restaurants and fast food eateries, will not be able to for the next 21 days.

This follows the official announcement of a three week lockdown by President Cyril Ramaphosa which will begin at midnight (South African Time) on Thursday, March 26 as a measure to help fight the Covid-19 infection rate in the country.

Only essential services, supermarkets, hospitals, banks, tuck shops and pharmacies will be open during this time.

In a statement released to the Restaurant Association of South Africa, the Minister of Tourism, Mmmamoloko Kuyabi-Ngubane confirmed that no restaurant will be operational during the lock down.

“In compliance with the nation-wide lockdown it should be noted that all restaurants, cafes, bars, coffee shops will be required to comply with the nation-wide lockdown for 21 days,” the statement states.

“Such service providers have not been included on the list of what has been deemed essential services during the lockdown and will not be permitted to operate and will thus need to be closed for the duration.”

“ In addition, in compliance with the nation-wide lockdown all food delivery services will also need to be suspended for 21 days with effect from midnight Thursday, 26 March 2020 until midnight Thursday, 16 April 2020. “

This includes all food delivery services like Mr Delivery and UberEats.

In a statement to Independent Media, Uber Eats said, “The health and safety of our community comes first, and we will do our best to support drivers, delivery people and restaurants during these unprecedented times.

“We are working as a business to better understand the measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020 regarding transport and food delivery and will announce our actions to this in due course.”

Restaurants were already operating with shortened hours, with some even trying out new ways of delivery food, like kerbside deliveries.

Last week, government stated that no restaurant should operate after 6pm, should have no more than 100 patrons and alcohol sales were also restricted to certain times.

The industry has been hit hard with the likes of Famous Brands stating that its sales had slowed down from the beginning of March as the Covid-19 outbreak took its toll on consumer activity.

“At this point, there has also been a concerning decline in sales in South Africa as well as in Mauritius and Kenya, due to the decline in trading volumes in those specific markets,” the group said. As the spread of the infection triggers panic buying across the world, South African retailers are saying they are working with their suppliers to ensure a consistent supply of products like meat and canned food, and medicine.