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A spot check by Capital Business further revealed that most restaurants were either empty or had a handful of clients/COURTESY

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Kenyan hotels start registering losses as brunt of coronavirus catches up

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – The brunt of the coronavirus pandemic has caught up with Kenyan hoteliers with some reporting up to 50 percent reduction in the number of customers.

Popular eateries such as Nairobi-based Pronto Restaurant and Homelunch say the confirmation of the pandemic’s first case on Friday has wiped out a huge number of their customer numbers over the fear of spreading the virus.

A spot check by Capital Business further revealed that most restaurants were either empty or had a handful of clients.

Pronto Restaurant’s Manager, Jamal Mohammed said that out of the nearly 40 clients received on an ordinary morning, only 8 people entered the hotel Monday morning.

“This is very worrying, never have ever seen such low numbers. We suspect it has to do with the report that coronavirus is now in Kenya,” Mohammed said.

The hotels also decried looming losses, confusion and challenges with the supply chain and employee crisis amid the panic caused by the novel virus.

Mohammed said that should the trend persist, they would suffer losses of up to 50 percent, which would affect how the business operates.

“We have already started witness shortage, for instance, today, there was a problem with getting milk, meat, and vegetables,” Mohammed noted.

Job losses

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Mohammed said that should the problem persist, they will have no other choice but to send some of their staffers home.

“We have more than 80 employees who risk losing their jobs should this problem persists. We pay them on a daily basis, so if there is no work, then there are no jobs,” he said.

At a nearby Home lunch restaurant, senior supervisor, Rose Saru said that the hotel started experiencing a slow down since Friday and adding that they are expecting half losses.

“We are doing a quarter of what we usually have. So, if we were getting 20 kg of sugar, now we are ordering 5 kg,” she said.

Regarding the state of employees working at the hotel, she said, “we are giving it two to three days to see how it goes and see if the business is picking up before we take any action.”

As part of the Government’s directive, the hotels are only performing cashless transactions saying that most people are paying via M-Pesa or directly from the bank.

The case is the same for Hot Dishes restaurant which is also expecting a 50 percent loss on revenue and could lay off its employees who are paid daily.

Ann Wainaina a manager at the restaurant said that the hotel has not taken any orders since Saturday, an issue which affects the supply chain.

“We have no customers, we are scared for the hotel industry, we have not taken any orders since Saturday and have felt the impact today, we expect nearly half losses.”

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So far, Kenya has three reported cases of the deadly virus.

The number of novel coronavirus cases globally stood at 168,250 with 6,501 deaths, across 142 countries.

The virus has become highly rampant in Europe and fast-rising in Africa with a presence in 24 countries.

Globally, the hotel industry is among the most affected sectors by the novel virus alongside travel, tourism, aviation and cruises sectors which are expecting double-digit losses.

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