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The effects of Coronavirus on the restaurant business in Nigeria

In late December 2019, news of a rapidly-spreading pneumonia-like virus in China started spreading across the world. The novel coronavirus, now called COVID- 19, which causes respiratory illness was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11. It has spread to at least 170 countries, infecting over 600,000 people and killing more than 30,000 people. Nigeria recorded its first case in February of 2020, and life as we know it has changed drastically.

As the numbers of infected people keeps rising, individuals and businesses alike are suffering greatly and are having to improvise. Restaurants and food businesses around the country are not left out of the economic effects of COVID-19. Because public safety is the number one priority for all, many restaurants and eateries have taken the decision to close indefinitely, while others have chosen to only operate delivery services.

While the restaurant business adapts to the changes, it is clear that COVID-19 is affecting the industry greatly; innovation will play a huge part in how businesses are able to lessen the economic impact.

Restaurants typically make their money on a daily basis from walk-in customers and with the social distancing regulations, this has drastically reduced or stopped altogether. Before the coronavirus pandemic, you could stop by any restaurant or eatery at lunchtime on a normal day and get a sense of its success. The past few days paints a much dimmer picture as most restaurants are closed until further notice.

Due to social distancing rules as a way to curb the virus, delivery options have become imperative for all restaurants who choose to stay open during this time. While most restaurants have decided to close due to the high risk to both their staff and customers, many have decided to only operate on a delivery or pick up basis.

Food delivery requires innovative logistical interventions that may include buying new delivery bikes or using existing delivery companies. Restaurants are listing their meals on Jumia Food and others, while others are creating their owns apps to aid with delivery.

Popular restaurant Nuli Lounge founder Ada Osakwe said “The ongoing health pandemic has caused us to close our restaurants to all visiting customers. We are still delivering your favourite Nuli Products across the mainland and island. Please order on our Nuli app.”

Like many of you working from home, I have been doing a mixture of cooking myself and ordering food from restaurants I trust.

Here are five of my favourite places on the island to order from in Lagos during the coronavirus shutdown: Cafeteria, Circa Non-Pareille, Z Kitchen, Toasties, Memories of Ethiopia, Mint By GC. If you google any of these places or visit their websites you can find the contact information.

Tips for consumers

Don’t be afraid to call up the restaurant to find out about their hygiene adaptations if they are offering delivery. While most restaurants have made public statements on their websites and social media handles. Still, feel free to call and make inquiries to make you more comfortable. Thankfully according to the World Health Organisation, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, however, it is important to note that it can be transmitted through infected surfaces. As always, and especially at this time, sanitise your hands frequently, disinfect all surfaces including cutlery and avoid touching your face. If you have to receive food, please ensure you wear gloves and disinfect the takeaway packages.

Stock up on essential foods

While ordering food is great, it is unsustainable and given the unpredictability of the pandemic, if you are able to, I suggest you go to your favourite supermarket and stock up on essential foods that can last you for two weeks. While doing so remember to practice social distancing and to wear protective wear and use a sanitiser often.

Don’t panic, cook at home

Given the 14-day lockdown which started on March 30, in Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun, this is the perfect time to spend time cooking at home if you can. Nutrition is key during this time. So, why not make time to cook your favourite dishes? Culinary Delights recipe edition which is brought to you by Maggi features delicious and diverse Nigerian recipes such as Efo riro, Edikaikong, Dambun Shinkafa, Ofe Akwu and others with very easy to follow instructions. You can find all the recipes online on our website.

Cooking at home will give you full control of the state and condition of your food and preparatory conditions and will make you an even better cook because remember that practice makes perfect! Ensure to eat al immune-boosting foods such as citrus fruit, fresh vegetables, almonds, yoghurt, garlic and ginger. Lemon water, as well as saltwater, have been said to help as well.

Tips for restaurant owners

Put health and safety first. As difficult as this time is, it is important that you remember that it is your responsibility to put people’s health first. We understand that the lack of movement is slowing down your sales, but fear not this too shall pass and you will be back on your feet in no time.

Technology and digital integration will be key  to stay in touch with your customers digitally. Send emails, update your social media handles and websites. Keep your customers informed on what hygiene changes you are adapting and if you have to close, inform them of the reasons why and what alternatives you may be providing. Consider building an app or registering or Jumia foods.

If you are going to stay open, ensure you have your best manpower dealing with orders. The staff you choose to work at this time is crucial. Ensure you equip them with the necessary precautionary equipment. Keep in mind that people that have to work during this time are under enormous pressure and anxiety.

Take it easy on them and ensure they are healthy and check on their mental health as well. Try to organize transport to and from their houses if you can, to make it easier on them.

To all our dear Culinary Delights readers, we hope you stay strong and healthy during this time. Please also ensure to take care of your mental health by trying to exercise at home and keeping in touch with your loved ones.

I really look forward to continuing physical restaurant reviews when this pandemic is over and we are able to access public spaces again, in the meantime Culinary Delights will focus on showcasing the delicious delicacies that Lagos has to offer through delivery.

You can protect yourself and help prevent spreading the virus if you:

Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub

Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing

Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell

Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are unclean

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