Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Many acquaintances have become friends and friends turn lovers in a restaurant. It’s a place where not only meals are served but where life is experienced. Undoubtedly, the ban on social gathering by President Muhammadu Buhari as a result of COVID-19 pandemic has done more harm than good to the out-of-home dining. Restaurant operators along Ogudu road in Kosofe Local Government complained about the low patronage the ban on social gathering is having on their restaurants.

Sesan Abe, the manager of one of the restaurants in Ogudu, complained of low patronage.

He said, “Market has been very dull this days, coronavirus is really dealing with our business, now we don’t cook more food like before because of low patronage. You know, prior to the advent of coronavirus most workers always patronize us for lunch and we always record high patronage during weekends, during the period of lockdown it was worst because everyone do cook in their home even now sales has been very dull because of the curfew. We always record high patronage most in the evening but that is not possible now due to the curfew imposed by President Buhari. Also during weekends when people use to troop in and out to celebrate one party or the other with their friends, the ban on social gathering has put an end to that. Sales of cakes and Ice cream have dropped drastically. My prayer is that this trying period should go on time.”

Yemi Somoye, a final year student from the University of Lagos, who walked in during the interview said she cannot just wait for this pandemic to pass because everywhere is just boring to her.

“Someone cannot buy something and sit down to enjoy herself, I use to come here very often before now with my friends but now that is impossible because the security man will not just allow you to sit for a second. Must I take everything home? After staying at home since morning I see nothing bad in strolling to a restaurant sit alone and enjoy the vibe but they won’t allow that, am aware and conscious of COVID-19 yet this is unwarranted.”

Another manager of a very popular restaurant in Ogudu road who does not want her name in print said,

“At first we decided to do take-out and delivery so we engaged dispatch riders, but there was no patronage, due to the fact that everyone is locked to their home, they have enough time to cook their family. Still we cannot just shut down because we have bills to pay. The rent is very expensive so we need to use every possible and legitimate means to make money. We cannot say because there are no orders for cakes and other delicacy now close for business, No! We will continue to strive till this era is over.”

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Solomon Bonu in a statement on Wednesday, said that due to the ongoing Ramadan fast, restaurants could open between 9:00am and 7:00pm, but insisted that they are still restricted to take-away packs and orders. He promised that the activities of all restaurants would be monitored by the ministry taskforce and will be ready to penalize any defaulter.

The ministry has set up a task force to monitor, arrest and prosecute erring facilities for non-compliance, comprehensive guidelines will be issued and made available to the operators. Hotels, bars and clubs remain shut until the state government decide otherwise.

Bonu added that as part of the new guidelines, employees of restaurants and eateries are now mandated to wear face coverings and gloves at all times adding that such coverings must be cleaned or replaced daily.

Lagos restaurant owners continue to grapple with the new realities the Corona virus has thrust upon the bustling city. Whereby it’s nights were frenetic and it’s numerous bridges were awake all through it, this is beginning to seem like a distant memory, a dream that every Lagosian wants to wake up from.

By Ife Adewole

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