17 March 2020

Dear Friends,

We are still coming to terms with the full implications of this crisis and understanding the impact of the State of Disaster on society as a whole.

Subsequent to our previous statement released on Saturday 14 March (please see below), the pandemic’s effect on South Africa has escalated, causing the President to implement strict measures with immediate effect.  Our first priority is the safety of our clients and staff, but we feel it is definitely in everyone’s best interests to remain calm and continue running our businesses to the best of our ability within the guidelines laid down by the President.  As you will be aware, schools will be closed from today for four weeks, and many people believe that many of the restrictions may be lifted around mid-April.  Although this would be very convenient, there is still a chance that the virus has not been contained by that time and that the period could be extended or adjusted measures implemented.

Our staff and management have been swamped with phone calls, WhatsApps and emails and we are doing our utmost best to respond within a reasonable time.  We thank you for your patience and understanding at this stressful time.  Please bear in mind that Theresa and I are dealing with these kind of issues for Rosemary Hill, The Greenhouse Café as well as The Waldorf School.  We have asked the wedding co-ordinators to assist, but they also need to give attention to their brides that may be on site on the day (like today) and this could affect their response time to your emails and calls.  In between all these additional communications and the regular responsibilities we all have in a normal week, we now also need to do additional training with staff, source additional products, make changes to our standard operating procedures, modify presentation and food service, just to name some examples of how this affects businesses in the service industry, trying to mitigate risks and ensuring business continues in a responsible manner.

We are offering the following alternatives to bridal couples for their weddings, we are making telephonic contact with all our couples getting married within the next three months (and beyond that, in due course), assessing their needs and attempting to find the best solutions for them.

  • Any wedding with less than 100 guests attending will continue as planned.
  • For weddings with guests from abroad or guests who can’t or do not want to travel, we are getting quotations for live streaming equipment which can be set up at the venue.  We are endeavouring to offer this service free of charge to our clients.
  • Where possible, we could set up different functions thereby ensuring that guest numbers do not exceed 100 per “event”.  Live streaming will again be available for speeches, and toasts and the couple or guests of honour can move between venues.
  • Staff who will prepare food or serve guests are receiving extra training and monitoring to sharpen up personal hygiene.
  • Regular disinfecting of all surfaces, door knobs, ablutions and any public areas will be done and food hygiene practices will be checked on more frequently.
  • Staff with any flu-like symptoms are instructed to stay home.
  • Staff working with food or serving guests will be checked for fevers on a regular basis.
  • Couples who wish to postpone will be accommodated as far as reasonably possible.  Most Saturdays are booked, but we will attempt to find suitable alternative dates, with a high likelihood that this may be during the week or on a Friday or Sunday if available.
  • For weddings where the majority of guests are from abroad, we could consider a longer postponement, even into 2021.  In cases like this we would be able to offer this at 2020 rates if the payment is made by the original planned payment date.  This will assist us in mitigating the financial challenges we are being faced with due to reduced numbers at numerous weddings as well as some postponements, etc.
  • Couples with guests from abroad could also dissuade their guests from attending, thereby reducing their risk.
  • Couples should ask invited guests not to attend if they feel unwell or are displaying any symptoms associated with the virus.
  • Couples could add to their invitation that guests may be screened for fever upon arrival.
  • We will continue communicating any new developments and changes to legislation or emergency measures as and when necessary.
  • Couples with weddings later in the year are encouraged to remain calm and consider the different implications of perhaps considering reducing guest numbers to below 100 (should this still be in place by that time), but not to make hasty decisions just yet.  The situation could change at any time and if we are all prepared with a few possible scenarios it would make it easier to implement at shorter notice.
  • For those who have guests travelling from abroad, it would be prudent to consider proceeding without them or, at worst, to discuss a postponement with us.  Again, let’s look at possible scenarios and discuss these since it affects you, your guests and our ability to help you find the best solution.

I’m sure this information does not cover all possible questions and scenarios, but it is aimed at giving you an idea of the topics being dealt with and to begin the process of planning and being ready for the eventualities that may present themselves.  Please feel free to contact your co-ordinator, Theresa or myself should you wish to bring anything else to our attention.  We look forward to working with you and ensuring that your wedding and it’s planning runs smoothly and continues to be the wonderful day that we know it will be.  We pride ourselves in delighting our clients and we know that the service, food and overall experience at Rosemary Hill and The Greenhouse Café will always be of the highest standard.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding!

Kind regards,

Thomas & Theresa Franken (on behalf of everyone at Rosemary Hill and The Greenhouse Café).

14 March 2020

Dear Friends

With the continued global spread of COVID-19 and the impact it is having on people’s lives all over the world, we feel it is important to inform you of our approach to the situation.  Although we take hygiene seriously and encourage best practice and general common sense, we do feel the time has come to communicate our position.  At the time of writing 24 cases have been identified in South Africa, all of which originated overseas and brought into the country by arriving passengers.  In other words, according to our sources nobody has been infected in South Africa at this stage.

The health of our clients, staff and residents is of utmost concern to us and for this reason we will keep monitoring the situation several times per day and ensure that we are ready to take further action if / when deemed necessary.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has provided guidelines for public events, which can be defined as follows:

“A public event is any event that is attended by the general public, including but not limited to events such as concerts, fairs, farmers markets, festivals, performances and exhibitions. To declare an event as ‘public’ it must meet the following criteria: Open to all public without formal invitation or prejudice and exceeding 500 people.”

As you will no doubt be aware of, various high profile sports events such as the Cape Epic, Australian Grand Prix, European soccer matches and even Broadway shows have been cancelled over the last few days.  We feel there is good reason for this due to the risk in such large crowds in areas where participants and attendees have been diagnosed or exposed to the virus recently.

With regard to weddings, private events and day visitors we do not feel the above is applicable and any such action would be premature and unnecessary at this stage.  We encourage our patrons and friends to continue applying common sense and good practice by washing hands regularly and avoiding touching of the face.

Let’s do our regular shopping, support our local small businesses, leave a few toilet rolls on the shelves for the next person – and above all, keep our great South African sense of humour and fighting spirit intact!

Despite our wish that our community, staff, visitors and South Africans in general continue to use common sense and avoid a sense of panic, we are ensuring that we minimise the risk of any contamination or spread of this or any other virus on our watch.

  • We are ensuring that staff sanitize and clean surfaces, door handles and public areas more frequently, with cleaners constantly doing their rounds
  • Food hygiene continues to be our main priority and we will ensure that managers and staff are continuously monitored and reminded to apply best practice as per their training
  • Ventilation and fresh air is ensured in all our public and event spaces

With regard to clients who may be inviting larger groups of guests, the main threat remains the likelihood that someone from abroad may bring the virus into the country.  As we speak, the WHO has declared Europe as the new epicentre of the pandemic.  For this reason one may consider checking with your guests before they take the trip to ensure that precautions are taken.

In the event that increased cases are reported closer to home and we feel further action is required we will communicate any relevant news or developments immediately.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share any concerns on this topic.  thomas@rosemaryhill.co.za or 083 252 3799.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you to the farm in the near future!

Thomas Franken

On behalf of the management of Rosemary Hill and The Greenhouse Café