Boon for delivery apps as city eateries shut on virus fears

A majority of Nairobi’s popular eateries have shut their doors amid reduced customer traffic caused by the partial lockdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Java House, which operates over 80 outlets across East Africa, on Tuesday temporarily closed 14 of its coffee shops in Kenya.

Amid a growing possibility of a full-blown lockdown in major urban centres, restaurants that rely heavily on foot traffic are set to be the hardest hit, with most of them not having pre-planned options for online deliveries.

Most of the restaurants, including Java, have been strictly serving takeaway orders following newly issued State measures to contain the spread of the virus, but have now been forced to shut their doors due to reduced customer numbers.

This has seen the establishments send their employees “on leave”, with anxiety growing over the future of their jobs as the number of new infections in the country continues to rise.

Twelve of the closed Java House coffee shops are situated in Nairobi.

The restaurant chain had announced it had partnered with Uber Eats, Jumia Food, and Glovo to deliver orders.

The remaining outlets countrywide have also had to adjust their daily operating schedules but with strict orders of no “eating in.” “Call and pick up your order in-store or order online on Glovo, Jumia Food and Uber Eats,” said Java House in a notice to customers. E-commerce platforms are turning out to be the biggest beneficiaries of the stay-at-home order. 

Jumia Kenya Chief Executive Sam Chappatte said they had recorded a rise in demand of basic groceries as Kenyans, now more than ever, find it appropriate to shop from home.

Chappatte said there was a spike in orders for basic foodstuffs.

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