Metro & Crime

COVID-19 restrictions: Govt insensitive to people’s plight –Hoteliers

Operators of event centres and clubs have cried foul over the recent government directive to re-introduce curfew and also place a ban on the public places due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The operators argued that the recent position announced on May 10 was insensitive and unfair to those in the business since markets, religious houses and banks are currently in full swing operations.

 

The Federal Government declared phase four of restriction of movements across the country with the re-introduction of curfew, among other restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly variants of COVID-19 recorded in some parts of the world.

 

According to Mukhtar Mohammed, secretary of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), effective from May 11, the government re-imposed a midnight to 4am curfew across the country and revived other restrictions to hinder the spread of the deadly variants of COVID-19 recorded in India and Brazil.

 

“The closure of event centres and non-essential public places such as nightclubs in the country was also approved, till further notice,” he said.

 

However, the Manager of Immaculate Hall and Events, Ofada, Obafemi Owode Local  Government Area of Ogun State, Mr. Samuel Ukemi, said he didn’t see the phase four lockdown as the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.

 

 

The lockdown imposed by the Federal Government last year across the country affected everyone, including the hospitality business.

 

According to Ukemi, some event centres can accommodate 300 people, now they are asking them to reduce it to 50. He said: “Nobody would want to patronise us anymore, because for somebody who wants to host about 350 people, you now told them they can only take 50 people.

 

Such a person would rather go and use a pri mary school field or he erects a canopy on the road and holds his party there.

 

“When some of our customers approach us to make use of our hall, when we tell them it could only accommodate 50, they would go to make use of school fields or their compounds.

 

Even then, we hardly sell three crates of drinks, because we have lesser people patronising us. As a result of that some staff were sacked, while a few who were retained have their salaries reduced to keep the business going.”

 

Also, the Manager of Boyemco Hotel and Event Centre in Mowe, Ogun State, Mr. Femi Adegunleyin, said it was unfortunate the Federal Government priwas imposing another phase of lockdown on the country after what they had gone through last year.

 

He said: “I believe the purpose of the lockdown is to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some travellers from Turkey, Brazil and India had been prevented from coming into the country to stop the spread, then why the lockdown in the country again?

 

“During the lockdown last year, because of the measures we put in place to reduce the pandemic, some of our customers ran away.

 

Whenever we told them to wear face masks, they wouldn’t return to the hotel or book halls. What we were doing was to prevent ourselves and our staff from contracting the virus, and we were still accommodating 100, now we were told to take 50, which is a serious setback for the hospitality business in Nigeria.

 

“We also fired some of our workers when we couldn’t meet up with their salaries. Currently, we are just five doing the work of the whole hotel. Now that the management is planning to take more staff, they are coming up with another lockdown. If they want to us out of business, they should let us know.

 

The country is seriously in a mess; we don’t have regular power, we are running on diesel on a daily basis. Even if we don’t have up to expected guests, we still have to make them comfortable and enjoy their money.”

Also, the Manager of Marritmat Hotel and Event Centre, Atala Estate, Obafemi Owode, Ogun State, Mr. Pius Amodu, said the Federal Government imposed the phase four lockdown at a wrong time. Amodu said operators were  just coming back to business and centres were just coming back to live.

 

He said: “When the government said we should not accommodate more than 50, there are times we always have between 150 and 200 people in our hall and they also buy drinks from us.

 

Now with the 50 people we wouldn’t be able to pay salaries and do some other things in the hotel. Government should find solutions to the problem; it is only the downtrodden that are suffering.”

 

Some operators in Agege and Ogba also spoke to our correspondents, noting that the recent development was hugely uncalled for. “COVID-19 cases are reducing every day and now they want to stop our businesses, how do we feed? How do we make ends meet? Government should announce a total lockdown rather than single out the hospitality business.

It is most unfair,” owner of an event centre in Agege, said. Another respondent in Ogba, Solomon Johnson, argued that compliance would be almost impossible since all other aspects would be active.

 

He said: “All those coming to event centres are not restricted on the road and they also go to work and so they will have to relax.

 

This can only work if movement is restricted and people stay at home like we witnessed last year.” New Telegraph’s visit to some of the bars and joints at the Ikorodu area of Lagos State revealed that the owners are not really ready to take to the directives of the government.

 

A manager at one of the bars said with other countries already opening up for people to return to their normal life, Nigerian government decided to cage the citizens.

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