Restaurant owners in Kigali cry foul, appeal for adjusted curfew hours

On 6 February 2021 at 03:28

Business persons owning restaurants in Kigali city are crying foul over losses incurred by COVID-19 preventive measures that some restaurants are going bankrupt and appealed for support to continue operations after curfew hours.

Restaurant owners have expressed these concerns in a letter addressed to the CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Clare Akamanzi in which they copied the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM).

They have requested permission to continue activities until 9pm instead of the current curfew hour set to 6pm.

“We are writing the request the support of the Government of Rwanda to enable restaurants in Kigali to operate during the lockdown. The current restrictions on hours of operations for businesses that have been put in place to combat Covid-19 pandemic have, unfortunately, created significant challenges hampering our ability to operate and placing us at significant risk of closure and bankruptcy,” reads part of the letter.

Restaurant owners have explained that Coronavirus has largely affected their businesses as they mainly rely on social events which is among banned activities and requested for urgent support as it happened during the lockdown imposed last year in March.

“During the initial successful lockdown in March-May, delivery services were allowed to continue until 9pm. However, the current measures require that all movement and activity must cease by 6pm. The impact of this measure is that we must close shop by 4pm in order to allow our staff to return home,” reads the letter.

“As consequence, we are unable to fulfill any orders in the later afternoon and evening, which are peak hours of service for us, when we generate the bulk of our revenues. As it stands now, our restaurants have already seen a decline in revenues of 40-50% on average, since the beginning of the pandemic, and the new restrictions of delivery services threaten to reduce this another 50-60%.”

They continued explaining that new guidelines also affect people unable to shop during the day.

“ With the current 6pm closing, we are unable to provide dinner services to our clients who have indicated a strong demand for this, especially busy workers and homeschooling parents who cannot shop for food during the day, “reads the letter.

These business persons said they will adhere to Covid-19 preventive measures once given go ahead and work with authorized transport mechanisms to take staff home.

They explained that many of them will not survive the lockdown without intervention, highlighting that it will not only bring devastating impact to businesses but also to employees, business partners across the value chain down to farmers who supply produce.

Replying to the letter via Twitter handle, RDB said that the request was received, discussed with relevant institutions and came out with a solution that these businesspersons should continue respecting existing curfew hours considering the current state of Coronavirus in Kigali.