Business - COVID-19 - Featured - Local - Top Stories - March 16, 2021

Grievances over lockdown measures

By Tendai Bhebhe (Bulawayo Correspondence)

Restaurants in Bulawayo are not happy with the government directive that they only serve takeaways. The government said it will help curb the spread of the high contagious COVID-19.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa two weeks ago announced new measures which include scrapping of exemption letters for people to travel, reduction of curfew hours and the extension of business hours.

In an interview with BusinessMail, Tafadzwa Machirori Smoke House General Manager said they have retrenched some staff members since they are not generating a lot of business.

“The lockdown restrictions to operate on take always only have adversely affected our sales and our revenue. We also had to release our casual staff compliment as a result of the reduced turnover as it was not financially sustainable to maintain their contracts.

Although our turnover has decreased, most of our costs have remained. In order to manage these, we have had to put in place measures like reducing the number of active staff at the restaurant. We have also had to streamline our stock orders so that we still serve our community through takeaways without tying up too many funds in stock as the funds will be required at the end of the month to meet other obligations,” Machirori said.

More than one million Zimbabweans have been affected by the closure as each worker is estimated to have five dependents.

Machirori said the restaurant had purchased a lot of stock before the sudden announcement of the lockdown restrictions. She said they are looking forward to the regulations being relaxed to allow for guests to sit in, even if it is for limited numbers.

Dumisani Nkomo Director operations at Hillside Hideout said they have been severely affected by the lockdown restrictions because they have a family set up which leverages on the natural beauty of the dams.

He further said they have tried to be innovative by increasing their takeaway portfolio and on occasion’s deliveries.

“We have now embarked on home deliveries so that we can try and beef up our sales but it’s still a challenge as customers prefer to come and sit in and enjoy the scenic view of Hillside Dams,” said Nkomo.

The Restaurant Operators Association of Zimbabwe (ROAZ) President Bongai Zamchiya said many restaurants undertake to transport their staff to and from home thereby reducing the effects of use of public transport.

He said they are recommending the re-opening of restaurants phased from an initial 50 percent capacity leading to full capacity.

“Operational times should include the ability of offer breakfast, lunch and supper, as well as all day food and beverage service. It is, therefore, we are requesting that operational times between 6am and 10pm be allowed. It is, of course, understood that there is to be full application of required precautionary measures, from sanitisation of premises and equipment, through to masks, hand sanitisers, temperature checks and so on.

“Relevant authorities can easily monitor compliance and as an association we can play a role in ensuring adherence and compliance,” said Zamchiya.

It is estimated that Zimbabwe has between 700 and 850 restaurants including takeaway only venues.

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