We look back at some of the news stories of the week, from the loosened lockdown restrictions to when restaurant workers can expect to receive the vaccine.

Alcohol back on the menu

The big news of the week came on Monday night when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that because the number of Covid-19 transmissions had declined, adjusted level 3 lockdown regulations will be relaxed. For the hospitality industry, this had huge ramifications – alcohol sales are now permitted from Monday to Thursday, 10h00 – 18h00 for off-site consumption, and on-site consumption is permitted throughout the week between 10h00 and 22h00. Wineries and craft breweries can sell their goods for off-site consumption throughout the week as well.

The hours of curfew will now be from 23h00 to 04h00, and restaurants will need to close by 22h00 to allow employees and guests to travel home before the cut-off. Last, but not least, beaches have re-opened – a huge relief for tourism, coastal accommodation providers and restaurants that service beachgoers. RASA’s Wendy Alberts, who recently held a sit-in at the Union Buildings to bring awareness to the impact that the lockdown restrictions were having on restaurants, welcomed the news. In a Facebook post, she cautioned that restaurants must continue to be responsible: “Let’s please stand in unity and support each other and do everything to keep our staff and patrons safe. Let’s promise each other to be responsible in our businesses and do everything possible to keep the lifting of the Liquor ban.”

Read More: FEDHASA’s reaction to the adjusted lockdown regulations 

Restaurant workers to be vaccinated in Stage 2

The Health Minister recently confirmed via twitter that those working in restaurants can expect their vaccine in the second stage of the vaccine rollout, which includes other essential workers such as taxi drivers. Eat Out reported that because restaurant workers spend their day interacting with the public, they are classed as ‘persons in congregate settings’ which recognises that they face additional risks in their line of work. Those who would like to receive the vaccine will have to register online, and while the date of vaccination has not been confirmed yet, it’s expected to be in the first quarter of 2021.

Local Covid variant could harm SA brand, says TBCSA

In a News24 report, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, the CEO of Tourism Business Council of SA, has said that the SA Tourism industry needs to address the current narrative overseas of the ‘South African variant’ of coronavirus. “It is a Covid-19 variant and we as South Africans are not doing ourselves any favours by saying it is a ‘South African’ variant. There are many variants. There are people with that variant in the US who never even travelled to SA. So, it is a [Covid-19] variant and not a South African variant,” said Tshivhengwa. He says that the continuing narrative of a South African variant will stigmatise South Africa and South Africans who want to travel overseas.

Spinach can send emails now, apparently

And now for something completely different… Using nanotechnology, scientists at MIT have engineered spinach plants so that they can wirelessly send information back to the scientists. But why? The technology was developed to detect bombs – the spinach can pick up chemicals in the groundwater through its root system, and if it picks up compounds that are found in explosives, it would emit a signal to notify the scientists. It’s hoped that this technology can be used in the future as a warning system about pollution or other environmental conditions. So there we go! Bet you’ll look at the leafy greens in your fridge a little differently now.

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