Namibia: Restaurants Breathe Sigh of Relief


RESTAURANT managers and owners were excited on Sunday when they were finally allowed to accommodate 50 customers on a sit-down basis for the first time in more than a month and a half.

"It feels good to have our customers back. People are excited. An hour before we opened, we already had customers asking us what time we were going to open," Windhoek-based RocoMamas operational manager Quincy Karamata yesterday said.

He said restaurants would never survive serving customers on a takeaway basis only.

"Having sit-downs works better, because customers get to be in a different environment. They get to be out as a family as well . . . It has been really, really tough," Karamata said.

President Hage Geingob on Friday allowed restaurants to resume operations.

"On-site meals at restaurants will resume with the focus on adhering to regulations," he announced.

Gatherings have been adjusted to 50 people per event, not lasting more than two hours, Geingob said.

The new regulations came into effect on Sunday and will remain until 14 August.

Yacine Ngoma (9) yesterday at RocoMamas told The Namibian he was glad families can go out together again.

"...we have realised life is short because of this virus, but now people will get meshed up together, and you may not know who has the virus," Ngoma cautioned.

Ivan Gawanab, a barista at Slowtown Coffee Roasters, expressed his relief at regaining customers, and business getting back to "some version of normal".

"Early in the morning people were already here asking us what time we would be opening ... Most of our customers come here to sit down and drink coffee while doing business, and they could not do that when we were only serving takeaways," he said.

Jemimea Garises, a supervisor at the shop, said she is happy about customers' return, because this would make employees' jobs more secure.

"When we were serving on a takeaway basis we were worried about our jobs, because we did not know whether things would go back to normal," she said.

Hotel Destiny owner Gideon Hamukwaya said the restrictions had strained the hotel's overall finances.

"Really closing down restaurants is not good for the economy. We are not making any profit, and we can't pay employees who rely on their jobs to feed their families. We hope from here going forward things will improve," he said.

Jean-Paul Schmidt of AfrikaStadt Haus Hotel at Ongwediva on Sunday said he hopes business will pick up from this week.

"It is still early days . . . Covid-19 has affected people financially, and many prefer to just stay at home where it is safer, but we are hopeful," he said.

Although most restaurants at Walvis Bay were closed on Sunday, the managers of those that were open were excited about customers' return.

"It started slow, but later started picking up. We had about 60 customers by three o'clock, which is good. It was a hard time. We are hoping for more this week," said Maureen Tjikumise, a manager at Mugg & Bean restaurant.

"It started really slow. Some are still calling for takeaways," said Daphne Ganases, the manager of Fishaways at the town.

Marianne Groenewaldt from Dockside Seafood and Grill at Walvis Bay said: "People really missed this place.We are really happy to see them."

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