Why can churches re-open but not restaurants?

Why can churches re-open but not restaurants?

That’s what the Restaurant Association of SA (RASA) demands to know. Wendy Knowler chatted to RASA CEO Wendy Alberts.

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“We have no beef with any religious grouping, but the restaurant industry has been crippled and we’ve been fighting for permission to re-open, with strict protocols."

The association has sent a letter of demand to Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, asking for the same analysis which government applied to the churches’ submission to be applied to the restaurant and other industries.
The restaurant industry had done everything to respect government's bid to contain the spread of Covid-19, she said. 

She argues that restaurants already have all the health and hygiene protocols in place - sanitising, keeping a register, physical distancing enforced by table spacing, etc. “We have been totally crippled by lockdown,” she said. “Allowing take-aways and deliveries is not going to save the industry - those are marginal operations for most of us.”
“800 000 people need to come back to work.”

Sanitising is all the rage as we move to lower down the lockdown levels, and learners and workers emerge in phases to get back to school and work.

Loads of companies are marketing various sanitising services, but are they justified or necessary?

Pretoria-based microbiologist Dr Lucia Anelich thinks not. And nor does the World Health Authority (WHO).
On May 16, the WHO issued an advisory saying the spraying of people with disinfectants in booths or chambers was "not recommended under any circumstances”.

Such booths have been erected at some Gautrain stations and a few taxi ranks, as well as in some private schools in preparation for the phased return of learners on June 1.

“This practice could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact,” the WHO said.

“Even if someone who is infected with Covid-19 goes through a disinfection tunnel or chamber, as soon as they start speaking, coughing or sneezing they can still spread the virus.”

Anelich calls it “hyper sanitising”.

“It’s sanitising beyond reason,” she said. “My colleagues in Ireland, Germany and New Zealand were astounded when I told them about these disinfectant booths."

There was no evidence to suggest that people outside of healthcare settings should be totally disinfected, Anelich said.

“More and more evidence is emerging that only about 10% of coronavirus transmission happens via surfaces - 90% is person to person transmission - coughing, sneezing, talking.”

There were concerns about the type of disinfectants used, their concentration, the contact time, and the impact they could have on those who suffer from allergies and asthma, Anelich said.

She said she was particularly concerned for those people, such as commuters, who would be forced to endure being sprayed with disinfectant twice a day.

The Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) said it had decided to go beyond the “basic and essential measures” of compulsory mask wearing, physical distancing regular train and station sanitising to pilot test "prototype thermal spray booths" at the entrances of its Midrand and Hatfield stations.

“In addition to thermal scanning, the booths also spray a light disinfectant mist from the sides of the booth, with the purpose of applying a suitable disinfectant in a fine mist spray onto the body and clothes of passengers from the shoulders down.

“With passengers entering the booths with compulsory masks on, inhalation of the mist is minimised. Irrespective, the compound used in the mist is SABS-approved as non-hazardous and suitable for industrial and home use. 
“It is anti-bacterial, non-toxic, biodegradable and non-irritant in contact with human skin."

The guidance from the WHO on disinfectant tunnels had “been noted”, the GMA said, “and will be part of our consideration of the use of the booths”

Also read: Returning items during lockdown

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