South African police on Friday fired stun grenades and water cannons to disperse demonstrators outside Parliament in protest against COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
The protesters, who came from the hospitality industry, demanded that the government fully reopen the tourism industry so as to save jobs.
The protesters, estimated at more than 200, gathered outside the parliamentary precinct, holding placards with such slogans as “Jobs Save Lives” and “Restaurant Lives Matter.”
Organizers said the protest was designed to raise awareness about the plight of the restaurant industry during the lockdown.
Police fired stun grenades and water cannons to disperse the protesters after failing to persuade them to leave, said a witness who requested anonymity.
The protest was part of a nationwide campaign in protest against the lockdown restrictions.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) planned to put one million seats on the streets around South Africa to press their demand for restaurants to fully reopen.
The hospitality industry has complained that it neither has got adequate funding from the government for the loss in revenues, nor has it given payouts by insurance companies.
The current level-three lockdown allows restaurants to reopen with sit-down service and other parts of the tourism sector to resume business under strict conditions.
But the re-introduction of a ban on alcohol sale and an evening curfew still have a direct impact on the industry.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa predicts that about 600,000 direct tourism jobs will be lost in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The South African government foresees that domestic leisure tourism will likely only be able to resume in December and international travel next year.