Weekend nightlife in Accra has suddenly rebounded with low observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols at various pubs and drinking bars.
Since March 22, 2020, all public and social gatherings remained banned as part of the government’s intervention to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact of the ban on the socio-economic lives of the citizenry has been dire.
During the President’s 14th address to the nation on measures taken to ease the spread of the coronavirus last Sunday, July 26, he said open-air drinking bars could reopen but gave a red line that they had to enforce all the safety protocols.
No safety measures
Over the weekend and the public holiday last Tuesday, many bars, particularly in Osu, were bubbling with activities while the various protocols such as physical distancing and compulsory wearing of nose masks were all disregarded, reports Joshua Bediako Koomson.
Many bars, be it the very small ones by the corners of streets which serve local communities, or the bigger and more popular ones and pubs had all attracted patrons.
Several people were seen drinking, singing and dancing together while having close conversations and engaging in other activities which could possibly cause the spread of the virus.
Although some police patrol teams were seen patrolling the various streets, they looked on while such unlawful acts continued to ensue.
Efforts by bar operators
A bar operator who only gave his name as Okocha said he had tried everything possible to ensure the observance of the safety protocols “but you know it’s not easy to control someone who is drunk.”
For instance, he said he had put up notices with the safety protocols inscribed on them while he also made sure the DJ periodically reminded them of the physical distancing directive.
It was party time for the patrons
“Aside that we also make sure the spacing is wide enough to avoid any spread. Few hours ago, I had to personally walk some guys out because they wanted to change the sitting arrangement by getting some of the chairs closer,” he said.
“Although we want to make money particularly in these times that the COVID-19 had adversely affected our business, we have to make sure our staff and customers are safe,” he stated.
Aside the disregard for the safety protocols, some pubs and drinking bars also failed to ensure protection among their staff.
A staff at one of the pubs in Osu said: “I came to work today expecting that my management was going to provide us with some safety gears but to my surprise, we had to buy them ourselves.”
“We are being told to use the sanitiser anytime we serve and we have to change our nose masks every day. This means I have to use part of my salary for these items aside the burden of transport fare. All my colleagues are complaining, but our boss will not take it likely if we should approach him with this issue,” she said.
A visit to some drinking spots and pubs in the Tema Metropolis revealed that while some customers were adopting a wait-and-see approach, operators have indicated that they are ready to receive clients and have made provision for social distancing for patrons, reports Benjamin Xornam Glover.
Some of the popular hangouts visited in the metropolis were George’s Pub in Community Two, Location Pub and Grill, Monte Carlo in Community 10, Ritz Pub as well as Starbites both located in Community Eight.
Some pub operators who spoke to The Mirror said apart from making provision for physical distancing seating arrangements, clients who call in are expected to wash their hands and use sanitisers.
However, this reporter who spent a few hours at some of the bars observed that while operators made provision of handwashing equipment, including soap, water, tissue and waste bins at the entrances, patrons were not using them and there was no one to prompt them.
Patrons walked in and mingled freely without covering their mouths with the masks while some had their masks hanging loosely on their chin.
Others also came in without their masks and clustered while talking loudly, seemingly forgetting about their risk of picking droplets from each other.
A patron at one of the bars at Community Nine, who gave his name as Mr Ashittey, said it would be extremely difficult to observe the COVID-19 safety protocols in such an environment.
“As you can see, under such environment, how will patrons exhibit minimum contact?” he queried.
Others told this reporter that they had recalled some of their waiters and waitresses who were sent home in the wake of the pandemic in Ghana.
Maame Esi, a waitress at one of the pubs, told this reporter that she was happy to be back to work after staying home for two months.
“I know some patrons are hesitant about mixing in larger groups but with time, the business will pick up,” she stated.
No physical distancing
There were mixed scenarios at the Purple Pub bar, Africa Power Cocktail Special, Container Spot at Osu and Vienna City at Circle, all in Accra, reports Lydia Ezit.
At the Purple Pub and Africa Power Cocktail Special pubs, The Mirror noticed that there was no spacing in the seating arrangement.
Although management had positioned Veronica buckets at the entrances, patrons ignored the buckets as they entered the pub.
The patrons were spotted dancing, some crowded around tables and food joints without adherence to the physical distancing protocol, while others gathered around obscure corners in the pubs amidst puffing of shisha.
A bar attendant at Purple Pub who gave her name only as Naa explained that it was difficult getting customers to adhere to protocols as some were quick to snob them.
The popular Container Spot opposite the Papaye Restaurant in Osu was very quiet and virtually empty with only two patrons drinking.
The usual bustle which accompanies brisk soliciting business by prostitutes at the Vienna City, near Kwame Nkrumah Circle, was missing when The Mirror visited the place.
There were no customers, mainly prostitutes, although the place had been operating since the restrictions were lifted.
Security men at the Vienna City told The Mirror that the spot had lost customers since the government announced measures to curb the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
Though they had been operating, they explained that only few people walked in to patronise their service.
Previously, they said the car park was full but these days there was little work to do.
At Achimota Mile 7 in Accra, Sarah G. Dah reports that drinking spots and pork joints were full to capacity on the night of the Founders Day.
However, the safety protocols were thrown to the wind, as most of the patrons came in without observing them.
There were also no Veronica buckets at the entrance for handwashing.
The Mile 7 Park Drinking Spot which used to be busy for party-goers before the outbreak of the virus seems to be picking up, at least during the holiday.
Patrons enjoyed themselves as they mingled and partied all night long, as they seemed to be telling one another that ‘to hell with the virus.’
They gathered in groups of fives, sevens and 10s around different tables with different kinds of alcoholic beverages, accompanied by khebab.
At some point, people put on their dancing shoes to enjoy tunes from highlife legends.
A waitress told The Mirror that “it was because of COVID-19, but now that it is gone, we are back to business. You can see that everyone is seated.”
Meanwhile, Justtouch, a popular joint at Kwabanya, Accra, which used to be crowded, is still not back to its normal operations, as TheMirror observed that only a handful of people were hanging around.
Although the Veggies Restaurant at Ashongman Estate, was not functioning as it used to be, some people were spotted waiting for their orders, with each table far from the other.
Source: General News