FRANCISTOWN: Although there is no confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Botswana, the virus has put the country on tenterhooks.
It has virtually affected many business establishments even social life.
Even though the government has put in place a raft of measures to contain the virus, compliance to the measures is a double whammy-some as business entities have started to implement the measures but on the other hand others have adopted a carefree attitude towards the interventions on the virus.
A wide range observation by The Monitor team in Francistown has uncovered that the effects of the virus are multifaceted. Related to that, key businesses in Francistown have started feeling the pinch as concerns about the virus continue to spread.
For instance, the general manager of Adansonia Hotel and Conference Centre, Tony Chatadza said the virus has crippled the enterprise.
“We have some scheduled events that were cancelled due to the coronavirus. Our customers have cancelled their events indefinitely. The virus has hit hard on our bottom line,” said a worried Chatadza.
In another realm, Emmanuel Petros of Black Prince Travel tours who operates in Maun has confirmed that tour operators such as himself have been hard hit by the virus.
For an example, he was supposed to transport 45, 35 and 12 customers to Namibia, Cape Town and Kasane respectively but hit a snag because of the virus.
On Friday, Rachit Josh, the manager at Nortex Textiles, said some clients have deferred their orders for April.
The company manufactures towels and exports them to South Africa. Nortex boasts a monthly turnover of P10 million.
“So far we have received postponements of 20% of our orders from regular customers. They have been postponed to May,” Josh said.
Despite that, Josh expressed optimism that the situation will not lead the business to go into a precarious situation that would ultimately lead to job losses.
“We are monitoring the situation. At the moment we do not anticipate job losses and we hope the slowdown in our business will not persist,” he added.
Nortex is one of the biggest employers in the city with a staff complement of around 500.
A period of uncertainty, Petros said, is awaiting them and there are not sure when things will be back to normal.
He added that his clothing brand Made in Maun that produces the Maun Ka Monatji clothes is also affected because it makes more money during the Easter Holidays and Mascom Derby event.
“The sales are going to be low because the Mascom Derby event that usually pick our sales is cancelled and most people buy our products to show that they were in Maun during the Easter Holidays,” Petros said.
Another entrepreneur, Gregory Sekga, who runs an event management company, also confirmed that all his scheduled events have been cancelled until May 30 due to the virus.
He added that there is no guarantee that the situation will normalise in the
According to Sekga, he is going to have a hard time to pay his workers and meeting other business related costs.
He also said his company, which provides promotional materials through its subsidiary Print on Demand, has also cancelled all its orders due to the virus. The coronavirus has also affected social order. While some people are observing the procedures that the government in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) have recommended, some beer guzzlers continue to drink alcohol from the same bottle with reckless abandon.
The Monitor team also observed that it was commonplace to share cigarettes at Area W, Monarch and Area S bars although health authorities have stated this practice has the potential to spread the virus.
The same situation obtained at Zamalek, a popular Chibuku drinking hole in Kgaphamadi location in Francistown.
As an intervention, bar owners at Area W and Aerodrome have started to provide hand sanitizers to their customers. The owner of Botalaote bar, Motsamai Motsamai and owner of Majakathata Bar Punie Josiah told this publication that the health of their customers as opposed to making profit are their primary focus during this dire situation.
At the shopping complex of Area W, it was crystal clear that entertainment goers were not observing the measure of social distancing.
The bars, which were packed by a lot of people, were closed by the police and soldiers around 2100hrs.
Churches like Methodist Church and Anglican Church’s Saint Patrick branch in the city centre have closed as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the virus.
The coronavirus pandemic over the weekend made some of the most bustling areas in the city very quiet. By 2200hrs on Saturday, popular bars and restaurants in the city were virtually empty in compliance with restrictions imposed by the government.
On Saturday morning the government announced that it is adjusting operating hours for bars and restaurant from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm with immediate effect.
That was after Batswana shunned appeals that they should not spend time in bars and restaurants as a measure to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
At Area L Shopping Complex, the city’s most frequented entertainment place, it was eerily quiet just after before 2200hrs on Saturday. The complex houses several bars. Liquor Shopping Complex in Monarch also experienced one of its quietest days in years. Just after 1800hrs, there were few people at the complex. The area, which houses several bars, is also one of the most frequented areas in the city during weekends.
At Galo and Nswazwi malls it was not busy as normal.
Before 2000hrs restaurants such as Nando’s and Debonairs had already closed their operations. It appeared the two restaurants closed early before the prescribed time due to a slowdown in business.