The modestly-sized, discreet branch of Tomoca in Piassa kept its doors open to customers looking for a quick sip of coffee for almost seven decades. But following the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the measures being taken to contain its spread, one of Addis Abeba’s most famous roasters has had to temporarily suspend service.
Over the past week, its doors were left shuddered, its employees put on paid leave and its owners left without income.
It is not just Tomoca. Any business that relies on people gathering in a confined space is facing a downturn in business activity. Some of these businesses, such as bars and nightclubs in Addis Abeba, were ordered to close following the first confirmed case of the Coronavirus in Ethiopia.
Many others have chosen to close their doors temporarily because they do not want to risk exposing their employees to the virus. In other cases, businesses have decided to close, for they do not see any purpose in remaining open when people are barely venturing out of their homes and the streets are all but deserted.
For the time being, this has not translated into mass layoffs, but most employees are being forced to take their annual leave. Meanwhile, employers are pleading with the government to bail them out.
In response, the city council is working on a tax relief package for businesses hit hard by the partial economic lockdown. However, experts are not sold on the idea that this would be of any value, since businesses are not earning any profit for the government to tax anyways. They argue that soft loans will be more beneficial.
Without extensive and early support, businesses warn that they will not be able to weather the storm if it lasts for several more weeks or months and that employees will pay the steepest price.
"We simply couldn't keep our employees without work," said Bethlehem Tilahun, owner of the roaster Garden of Coffee. "We had invested a lot in our employees, but in the end, it is a matter of survival."
You can read the full story here .
PUBLISHED ON Apr 04,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1040]
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