COVID-19 Hitting Businesses Hard

By Chimwemwe Njoloma

Lilongwe, May 20, Mana: Some business owners in Lilongwe have bemoaned a plunge in businesses due to COVID-19 pandemic, fearing the development may soon lead to total collapse of their businesses.

After three cases were diagnosed early April, government introduced precautionary measures to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

This included regulation of market operations, saloons, restaurants and bars among others.

Barely two months down the line, the effects of COVID­­­-19 pandemic have taken toll on people’s businesses leading to a decrease in both production and sales.

In an interview on Monday, Nina Chigamba who owns a salon in Area 18 said her earnings have gone down by almost 60 per cent because most customers have stopped patronising the place.

She said this was due to a stay-home restriction that has seen a lot of women not seeing the need to visit salons for retouch of their hair as they are mostly not mobile.

“Most people would want to look smart and presentable because of the audience they are interacting with.

“That being the case, most customers work from home now and do not see the need to visit a salon for a retouch of their hair and nails,” said Chigamba.

She added that most people think it is risky exposing their faces to a beautician, hence resort to home-made treatments remedies such as facial wash, hair wash and nail painting as they avoid being infected because social distancing wouldn’t work in the salon.

She cited the restriction on weddings as another setback because it was a reliable source of income in the business.

Chigamba said before COVID-19 pandemic, she used to earn MK200, 000 in one weekend but now she earns MK50, 000 or less.

Commenting on the issue, Spokesperson in the Ministry of Local government and Rural Development, Muhlabase Mughogho acknowledged that the precautionary measures introduced have huge impacts on businesses.

Mughogho said a lot of business owners have reluctantly let go of their workers because of lack of resources to sustain them.

“We are very much aware of the effects and challenges that business operators are facing in the wake of the Coronavirus.

“Councils came up with the precautionary measures to prevent spread of the virus,” she said.

Manager for Mpatsa Lodge in Salima, who identified himself as a Mr Nyondo, said government’s directive to shut down operations in all agencies has had great effects on their business.

He said organisations and other agencies no longer hold meetings at their place, hence reduction in their earnings.

“This forced us to enter into a mutual agreement with our workers to release them for an unpaid leave as we wait for business to get back to normal once the disease has been managed,” said Nyondo.

Options Car Rental Director, Phillip Chasowa said COVID-19 has led to a total blackout in the business emanating from travel limitations imposed by government.

Chasowa said most car hire businesses depend on organisations who hire cars to travel for field work.

“We rely on international visitors, organisations and tourists. We have been left handicapped ever since the stay-home preventive measure was introduced.

“We do not blame anyone. We just wish this coronavirus never existed,” Chasowa said.

Mughogho said it was saddening to see such devastating effects on businesses but was quick to say it was beyond the Local Government Ministry’s control.

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