by Ndanki Kahiurika

MOST businesses that depend on large gatherings are battling to survive in the face of the 30-day ban to raise enough rent, staff salaries and to keep the business running.

At several restaurants and hangout places in Windhoek, employers spoke of how they were trying to continue businesses without placing themselves or their workers at a disadvantage.

Ruvinoh Graig, the general manager of MoJoe’s Lounge at Windhoek’s Game shopping centre said business has been slow.

She said her employees were carrying on their daily duties, upholding hygiene with disinfection every now and then.

She, however, said the wearing of masks had scared away customers because of the assumption that one is infected if they are wearing these masks but nothing can be done about that.

“Since Saturday already, businesses were down and we were making about half of what we normally make on that kind of an evening. We were supposed to have a DJ performing too but that was cancelled. We still have to decide on Quiz night,” said Graig.

She expressed hope that her insurance company can help her to mitigate the costs and losses they are incurring because of the Covid-19.

President Hage Geingob on Saturday announced a 30-day ban of all large gatherings after the country confirmed two cases of Covid-19, imported into the country by a Romanian couple. 

Yesterday, he announced that the country is in a state of emergency. 

Ever since this announcement, the public has gone into a state of panic, with people buying gloves, and masks as well a vitamins in bulk, leaving most pharmacies out of stock.

Businesses such as restaurants and clubs have been suffering most and are trying to keep open while ensuring the safety of their staff and customers. Vicky Williamson, the general manager at Krisjans Bistro, said they are doing their best to adhere to World Health Organisation advice on maintaining hygiene.

“Our staff are disinfecting tables and chairs as soon as customers leave and we have also moved the tables one metre apart to maintain a safe distance between seated customers. Chefs are also wearing masks and staff are wearing gloves,” she said.

Garden Inn’s owner, Bomba Shigwedha, said they are encouraging customers to use their delivery service so that they can at least keep the business going in the meantime.

Debbie Pretorius, a manager at Jokers Restaurant and Club, said although they are experiencing a slump in business, closing down is not an option at all.

“We are trying to continue as normal but business is down. We still need to pay people and to pay for the place too,” said Pretorius.

She said they are keeping up the hygiene and althlough shops have run out of alcohol-based sanitisers, they have improvised and used bleach and liquid soap as disinfectants. Pretorius said they have had to cancel big events because of the 30-bay ban on crowds. 

El Barrio has come up with creative ways to still have customers come through, enticing customers on social platforms with their open courtyard environment and embracing  greetings such as elbow bumping and peace signs, among others, that do not require touching.

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