South African businesses are worried about the implications of the new variant of the coronavirus called omicron which was discovered in the country this week. Travel bans are already on the rise and many fear the lockdown restrictions will return.
The mimosas rushed in on Saturday at the trendy Altar Bar in Johannesburg.
But despite the constant stream of brunches, the staff were on edge.
The discovery of the new variant of the coronavirus called omicron has raised fears that another lockdown is looming.
Bar manager Josh Young said it would be devastating for the business, which only opened in September.
âI’ve warned my staff that there might be a lockdown and how we’re going to react to it, how we’re going to operate after that. It’s worrying because you’re basically taking money out of people’s pockets because that’s what they do to survive, âYoung said.
Scientists are still working to determine the risks posed by omicron.
Dr Michelle Groome, from the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases, says getting the vaccine is always essential to prevent serious illness or death.
She says continued precautions like wearing masks and social distancing and limiting gatherings indoors will also help reduce the spread of the virus.
Groome says if hospitals are overcrowded, South Africa will have to consider more restrictions.
“I know nobody is in favor of banning alcohol, but I think it has really helped reduce the number of trauma-related hospitalizations, and if we get to the point where, you know, there’s a need for more hospital capacity, you know, something like that might have to be considered, âGroome said.
This is worrying news for restaurants, bars and shops which are still struggling to recover from the June and July closures.
Mike Kotsiovos is the co-owner of a liquor store in Johannesburg.
âI’m panicking a bit,â Kotsiovos said. “The turnover is down quite a bit and it’s only a slight improvement over this last period that we normally negotiated, which is about a month. So we [are] suffer fundamentally.
It also affected his personal life.
The 71-year-old said he had not seen his daughter who has lived in Britain for two years.
Britain was the first country to halt flights to and from South Africa when the omicron was discovered.
The United States and the European Union followed suit.
Kotsiovos says seeing his daughter during the holidays is now unlikely.
âI think this time she won’t come. She had planned to come,â Kotsiovos said. “I think they’ve booked a flight and everything, but I don’t think they’ll come. It’s her and her husband.”
The South African government says travel bans unfairly punish the country for having the expertise to identify new variants.
He says variants are found elsewhere in the world, but these countries are not punished by travel restrictions in the same way as southern Africa.
South Africa’s foreign ministry said it was working to persuade countries that have imposed resumption bans.