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Mopako and dining out in coronavirus scare

MOMPATI TLHANKANE
Mopako and dining out in coronavirus scare
“Ka tsatsi la leso lame banna goa ipakelwa, lona bale ratang diphaphatha goa ipakelwa,” go the lyrics of a popular song called Goa Ipakelwa by a local artist Motabaseo of Mahempe fame.

The hitmaker basically suggests that people should bring their own food as at his funeral.

Speaking of funerals, the government in an effort to prevent the transmission and spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Botswana, measures such as banning food service provided to the public/mourners at funeral services has been implemented.

Whether or not people will bring their own food to funerals instead, it remains to be seen but the rules have to be obeyed. Now it brings me back to the issue of mopako or lunchbox as some would like to call it.

I have always developed the habit of bringing my own lunchbox all the time when I go to work. Some of my colleagues have since joined the trend and it helps us save quite a lot of money buying lunch. I have not eaten out for lunch in a long time. The novel coronavirus that continues to spread across the world raises fears about sharing a meal in public and even crowding at a restaurant. Therefore, I have since decided to continue with my mopako tendencies and in that way I think I can best maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.

Dining out in the age of coronavirus is less recommended, so many people are now reconsidering their rib and pizza night habit. Personally, I am mostly concerned about buffets and restaurants where customers may share serving spoons.

Many diners will soon be wary of setting foot into eateries of all kinds since public health experts, especially in seriously affected countries have suggested that they stay away in the interest of social distancing.

Moreover, as part of their efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus government announced recently that they have put into place new rules for restaurants to maintain a distance of one to two metres between individual persons and a maximum of 50 individuals everywhere including places like restaurants.

While people like myself have resorted to mopako to avoid commotion it is yet to be seen whether Batswana will stick to the limit of 50 people. In countries like Italy and China where restaurants have been shut down, these food outlets have turned into ghost towns.

It recommended that everyone should frequently wash hands with soap and clean water or hand sanitiser, so since I am the only person handling my own lunchbox, I can easily exercise these extra precautions all the time without having to set my foot in a physical eatery.

With my lunchbox always on my side, I can easily avoid eateries where employees handle cash and then hand over one’s food. It is said that one cannot come into contact with

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the virus through food, but the hard surface we encounter in a restaurant like menus, utensils, salt shakers and the like pose a big threat to infection.

Of course restaurants are aware that they have to provide a list of disinfectants that are effective against the coronavirus, but with mopako I can minimise quite a lot of risks.

There are many safe ways to dine out in the coronavirus pandemic, but officials around the world say that ‘social distancing’ is key to slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Stay indoors, stay away from others as much as you can, and get your food delivered.  These are just some of the messages that are being spread around by health experts. Those who insist on going to the eateries are advised to bring their hand sanitisers and use them all the time because one may mistakenly touch the wrong surface or paper money.

Eateries and usually street vendors have surfaces that are frequently touched or shared. Now with my lunch pail or lunch kit, the route is simple, home, car and work desk.  And the good thing is I can store food and take it anywhere as long as I exercise minimal contact with people and surfaces.

Of course, we do not want a situation where restaurants are forced to close as a way to employ the virus control measures though granted, minimising on dining out can allay the risk of infection.

But to avoid panic diners should take comfort in the fact that restaurants have been meeting food safety and sanitation standards for decades and they should have protocols in place. Restaurant owners should also increase the number of hand sanitisers at entrances and in the waiting areas of their restaurants.

They should disinfect trays, dining room tables and chairs after each use. They should increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitising high-touch surfaces such as doors, kiosks, restrooms and more. Their employees should also remain home when sick.

There is no indication that the virus can be transmitted through food but according to health officials the respiratory illness can be spread through droplets from a person’s sneeze for example. One of the concerns is encountering restaurant diners who might be sick. It is not everyone who likes home cooked meals or can cook for themselves, but getting one’s favourite dish delivered at their doorstep is one way to limit exposure to other people. But the sad reality in Botswana is that there are only a few restaurants that make deliveries and orders often overwhelm them. So personally, mopako is the way to go for me atleast, until this whole thing blows over.



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