Entertainment centres in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi, have been counting their losses due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on their businesses, which has forced them to lay-off majority of their workers.
As part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19, there have been a number of restrictions imposed on Ghanaians since March 2020.
For pubs, restaurants, night clubs, drinking spots, lounges and cinemas or movie Centres, which usually host large crowds, it has been a difficult period for them since the ban on public gathering has disrupted their operations.
A visit by Citi Business News to some centres in Kumasi showed that some of these businesses had closed down temporarily. Closing down also means that their workers have been rendered jobless. The situation is the same at other night clubs, drinking spots, lounges and some restaurants in Kumasi.
At the Ol’lady Sports Bar and Lounge at Danyame, which runs a night club, pub, a restaurant, a Lounge and also hosts events, the COVID-19 restrictions have impacted them negatively, as they have been forced to send home twenty of their 24 workers.
“We actually operate a system where the more you get the people, the more returns you make, but then the biggest challenge ever with respect to this business line has been during the COVID-19 season. At the start of the lockdown, we had roughly twenty four workers, but due to the problem of people not coming to patronize and there was a restrain on everybody not going anywhere, automatically, we had to lay off twenty workers. We had to do that because we couldn’t pay them and that is the reality. This is because people were not coming through”.
“We had top events that we had planned where we even booked international artistes and a lot of things went in there. We had a lot of things that we had planned with respect to corporate events and parties. That is how we make our money. That is how the business runs, but we had to cancel all that. That I will say it was a very big loss to us,” the Marketing Manager for Ol’lady Sports Bar and Lounge explained to Citi Business News.
The company however says it is exploring other strategies such as deliveries and targeted marketing to generate some revenue.
“We took selling the food and drinks through deliveries. That is mainly how we make money now. We had to form alliances out there and do intensive food promotion and marketing through radio and social media. It is costing a lot. We deliver to you wherever you are,”he added.
Management wants such businesses to be critically considered in the distribution of government’s stimulus package for companies affected by the pandemic.
“Government’s decision to bring about the coronavirus stimulus package, will help us revamp our business. When we get these incentives, we can reinvest in the business. I wouldn’t like to disclose that on the business strategy level, but there are other things that we can add up which will boost our business on a broader scale. When it happens that way, we bring workers back because from a twenty four working staff to a less than five working staff is a problem”.
A visit to a fast rising Cinema Centre in Kumasi, the Watch and Dine Cinema, also showed that the company has been badly affected.
According to the Accountant, Stephen Kofi Poku, they have laid-off thirty workers, whiles the rest have not received salaries since April.
“Since 22nd March 2020, operations have actually stalled and as such, we had to terminate contracts of about thirty employees- both management and junior staff because we are not in operation and we do not even know when we are coming back to operate because of the covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, we have overhead costs like our rent, maintenance cost, we have standardized projectors that have to be run periodically to ensure that they don’t break down and other stuff”.
Once the spread of the virus has not been brought under control, and public gatherings are still being discouraged, the fate of the affected workers of these businesses hangs in the balance.
Stephen Kofi Poku however says they are taking some steps to ensure that they’re able to revive the entertainment business.
“We want to assure our dear patrons that we are working in different modalities to bring entertainment to them. They should be rest assured that when the ban is lifted, we are really going to give them the best. We are currently closed, but we still have them in mind. There are a lot of business models that we are trying to put in place to give them entertainment, if possible to their homes.”
He however wants the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, to intervene with special initiatives to help those in this sector to bounce back.
“We wish the government could intervene through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, to assist the creative arts and the entertainment sector especially”.