A restaurant waiting for patronage. PHOTO:utibeetim.comWorkers in restaurants, gardens and parks may lose their jobs as owners and operators lament continued partial closure of business premises.
Speaking in Abuja over the plight of restaurant owners, Chairman of Casa Mexicana restaurant, Dr Goke Adegoroye said most restaurant owners are weighing their options and trying to see whether after COVID-19, they can still operate restaurants or embark on massive layoffs.
He said: “Our situation has not been helped especially by the last proclamation of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, which gave go ahead to hotels and religious worship centres to reopen with guidelines while overlooking the plight of restaurants, parks and gardens.
“Indeed, hotels also have restaurants, beer parlours and discotheques where adherence to social distancing would not be easy.”
Adegoroye argued that the existing practices of restaurants encourage most items on the protocols such as hand washing and social distancing.
His words: “In the care of restaurant owners like ours, the protocols that the PTF is trying to put in place are the natural culture of decent restaurants. Here, activities such as hand sanitizing and checking temperatures, full face masks and social distancing are part of our culture and can easily be adhered to. Staggering the tables and ensuring that people sit in twos in large tables and one per table on smaller ones. Most people that come to restaurants come because they are hungry and leave immediately after they eat their food. Restaurant owners can also use their discretion to decongest the premises once there is a crowd and adhering to social distancing becomes difficult.”
While expressing fear over imminent closure of most restaurants in the country due to the persistent lockdown, he explained that most restaurant workers have not benefitted from the Federal Government palliatives.
Adegoroye warned that restaurants might begin to downsize or sack, which may exacerbate social ills such as armed robbery and kidnapping.
He submitted that opening hotels and leaving out restaurants cannot be said to be backed by logic and science.
“I really don’t know the rationale behind opening hotels and leaving out restaurants. It does not appear to me to be guided by science. If hotels that house restaurants, discotheques and beer parlous can be allowed to open with guidelines and health protocols, the barest minimum that is expected is to issue the same guidelines to restaurants.
“In most countries that are adversely affected by the COVID-19, one of the businesses that were allowed to open are the restaurants,” he stated.
On his part, the Chief Executive of Nkoyo restaurant, Titus Elias, urged the development of health protocols by the Federal Government in collaboration with restaurant owners.
He also called for massive awareness amongst restaurant workers on how to remain safe outside of the work areas such as homes, markets, and other social gatherings.
To remain in business and avoid job losses, Elias urged the Federal Government to encourage commercial banks to offer single digit loans to business owners to ease the return to the new normal.
He added: “I think the Federal Government and restaurant owners in developing health and safety protocols must study steps that were adopted by countries that have reopened restaurants around the world. That will help us stabilise and ensure our workers remain safe when we finally open for business.”