South Africa

Dear Mr President ... please end lockdown restrictions: SA hotelier

Dear Mr President ... please end lockdown restrictions: SA hotelier

“It's time to encourage all businesses to open up fully and get back to work, just as we were before March 2020.”

That's the word from The Capital Hotels and Apartments MD Marc Wachsberger in an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, in which he called for the permanent removal of lockdown restrictions.

The hotel group owns and operates several luxury establishments throughout SA.

“I last reached out to you a little over a year ago in a previous open letter, where The Capital Hotels and Apartments welcomed your decision to lock SA down in anticipation of the Covid-19 pandemic, to protect the country’s people and prevent unmanageable burdens on the healthcare sector.

“We’re now on the other side of the third wave of the pandemic and we now all have the experience and the insights on how to manage our lives and livelihoods going forward.”

In the letter, published on the group's blog, Wachsberger said “for the sake of the economy, SA needs everyone back in the office, so that all the supply chains that support city centres, hospitality locations, and every other part of the economy can all get back to work, get back to earning their full income, and also get back to spending it.

“While the country’s GDP grew by 1.2% in the second quarter of this year, we need it to grow more if we’re to address our challenges of unemployment and inequality. We’re only going to be able to do that if we open the country up, remove lockdown conditions, and actively encourage everyone over the age of 18 to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“What’s more, we’re only going to be able to open up and return to ‘normal’ operations if we have some certainty: certainty that our operating hours and conditions are not going to be changed from one day to the next, and certainty that our clients are not going to have to change plans at the drop of a hat, or the institution of a lockdown.

“That’s why, Mr President, we appeal to you to not institute any more lockdowns.

“The only way the hospitality sector can return to employing 1.5-million people and contributing R450bn to the country’s economy, is if we have the certainty that you are not going to change our operating conditions overnight.

“With so many vaccination sites now available and demand for vaccines below supply availability, I believe that though its unlikely that we will prevent a fourth wave of infection, you need to commit to protecting livelihoods over the unvaccinated population who is not seeking your protection.

“If you and we and every business leader encourage every person in SA to be vaccinated before November, every person that lives, loves, and works in SA will be able to contribute to — and benefit from — our economy returning to pre-Covid-19 levels, and growing even more beyond that.

“Thank you for your leadership and guidance during the pandemic times — as a hotel group that has added three new properties to its portfolio during 2021, we have done everything to survive the last 18 months, making sure that our loyal teams have been able to continue working.

“We — and the whole hospitality industry — now need you to open up the economy and permanently remove restrictions and curfews — so that we can get people travelling, working and earning again,” the letter reads.