Covid-19 restrictions: Durban nightlife takes a massive knock

Durban – Popular social spots around the city of Durban have been dealt a blow following the president’s announcement on gathering restrictions and the sale of alcohol being prohibited from 6pm. 

On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele, reiterated that all venues that sell alcohol, will not be able to do so after 6pm as per the restrictions that have been gazetted in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak.

"Monday to Friday, after 6pm, people can only purchase food at restaurants. When it comes to alcohol, 6pm is the shut down. You will be able to consume alcohol in your own house. Anyone that sells alcohol or consumes alcohol outside of their home, will be issued a fine," he said. 

Earlier in the week, Minister for the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, announced a list of updated regulations, including "All on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, must be closed with immediate effect, or must accommodate no more than 50 persons at any time: Provided that adequate space is available and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and limitation of exposure to persons with COVID-19, are adhered to."

When the Mercury visited Florida Road in Durban on Thursday night, businesses in the usually busy road had already started complying with the regulations.

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The notice on one of the venue doors alerting patrons Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Some business owners said they would close at 6pm while others said they would only serve food and non-alcoholic drinks after 6pm. There were notices placed at the entrances of some businesses to notify customer of the new regulations and changes to their business hours or serving options. 

One business owner said that he was worried as customers usually stream in after 6pm on most nights. 

“Most of the businesses here operate until 1am in the morning selling alcohol. We can’t be operating until that time serving food, we will close maybe around 9pm because no one wants to eat after that,” said the business owner.

Bianca Kruger of Times Square, a popular night spot in uMhlanga, said the restrictions placed on on consumption restaurants has impacted not only on turnover but has contributed drastically to the loss of jobs. She said the poorest of the poor would pay a heavy price . 

"The minister and advisors should have consulted with the hospitality industry prior to the imposition of restrictions so that a workable solution could be found to save jobs while at the same time preventing the spread of the virus. In my opinion,  on consumption places should have been allowed to sell alcohol from 12 midday to midnight – this way we would have saved thousands of jobs," Kruger said. 

Another face in the Durban entertainment industry, Bevin Stanley, said he had to cancel two events this weekend. 

"It’s hurting those of us in the industry the most. Event coordinators, deejays, club owners and artists have homes to run and bills to pay. Only certain businesses remain open to a large capacity of people, like banks for example. I thought when the President said less than 100 people, he meant all businesses. People working in other sectors matter too," he said. 

Earlier this week, The Mercury reported that those in the wedding industry were also feeling the pinch as brides rushed to cancel or postpone their weddings.

The Mercury

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