As the economic impact of the COVID-19 widens across many sectors and businesses, some operators of Restaurants in the national capital, Accra, say their activities have been severely hampered as they’re unable to host large numbers of people.
Operators are thus calling on government to offer them some relief such as a reduction in utility tariffs.
Ghana’s case count of the coronavirus stands at 132 with three deaths.
The rapid increase in cases has heightened fear and panic as well as caution among the public.
Aside from the closure of schools, some Ghanaian workers have been forced to work from home all in a bid to stay safe.
These situations, coupled with travel restrictions, have slowed down economic activities, as some businesses like hotels have even laid-off casual workers due to low patronage caused by the pandemic. Restaurants; which are considered essential service providers because they offer food, have also been affected by the situation.
The very known and busy ones are now unable to host people who patronize their services.
The restriction on public gatherings and the practice of social distancing to curtail the spread of the disease; means that these usually busy restaurants cannot be the same in the meantime.
Some of Accra’s popular restaurants like Starbites and Jamrock Restaurants, both located at East Legon, looked empty with a handful of customers when Citi Business News visited.
Jamrock, which usually combines its sumptuous meals with some good live reggae music, has lost that feel for the moment.
These restaurant operators are now forced to serve more clients through online purchases and take-away delivery service, which sometimes come at a higher cost to them, and reduce their profit margins. Some say they have even resorted to free deliveries just to stay in business and increase patronage.
“We started feeling the impact two weeks ago, when the initial broadcast was made by the President, and that very Friday we saw our numbers reduced drastically” said Manager of Jamrock Restaurant, Elizabeth Olympio-Emanuel.
The Branch Manager of East Legon Starbites, Bernard Wilson also said “It affected everyone and Starbite is no exception. Due to that we are taking delivery seriously.”
Just like some hotels which have laid-off casual workers due to low patronage, some of these restaurants have also sent home some workers until the situation improves, and life returns to normalcy.
Manager of Jamrock Restaurant, Elizabeth Olympio-Emanuel, says cutting down staff remains the only option to avoid total closure.
“It has really impacted so much that we have had to lay off some of our staff already and focus basically on deliveries and takeouts” she bemoaned.
These popular food joints say although patronage has gone down, they are still paying all utility bills and taxes.
They believe a deliberate decision by government to cut some taxes or reduce the cost of utility, can sustain their operations.
“We really do need to hear from Government. I’m running my business on a bank loan. We are really struggling and if the tariffs don’t reduce, then a lot of businesses will not be able to come back fully, said Elizabeth Olympio-Emanuel.
Mr. Bernard Wilson also added that “We will plead with government to reduce the utilities because we are still running on same units on items, nothing has changed.”
Courier Services experience a boom
While these restaurants are recording losses, courier service providers appear to be making some gains, as demand for their services for all kinds of deliveries have gone up.
The restaurants for instance now rely on them more than ever to deliver orders to their clients. According to them, they’re even overwhelmed by the high demand for their services.
Stacy Opare, CEO of SO Courier Logistics said “There is a lot more pressure on us. Business is good now. I’ve made additional gains of about 30%. We are able to meet demand about 90% because the pressure is insurmountable.”