If one wants to determine how the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has impacted life, both socially and economically, nightlife in the cities and towns will be the best source material.
All around the cities, the places and areas that once bubbled with activities, even deep into the night, now seem abandoned, as streets are quiet, nightclubs, drinking spots and bars that once welcomed people to unwind, socialise and dance their stress away on weekends are locked up, only gathering dust on their doors and furniture.
From the popular Osu Oxford Street in Accra to the very lively Bantama Street in Kumasi through to Takoradi, it seems nightlife has been placed under curfew, with people coming out only briefly, as if to declare that they are not dead yet, and then retire to their homes earlier than they would usually do, particularly on weekends.
Since March 22, 2020, all public and social gatherings have remained banned as part of the government’s intervention to stop the spread of the COVID-19, and the impact of the ban on the socio-economic lives of the citizenry has been dire.
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 that attract patrons from all over, as well as the favourite joints which serve as hangouts for friends and groups and the beaches, have all literally gone quiet.
As for restaurants and other eateries, they were allowed to operate order and take-out services
Although some of the restrictions have been eased, particularly for those in the food service chain, to host patrons, while observing all the safety and preventive protocols, patronage has dipped, as people have chosen to stay away for now
The Daily Graphic, while on its rounds, observed that the people had been robbed of their nightlife, given the fact that during the day people went about their duties and businesses, but retired to their homes early.
Not even the sports bars, either big or small, that usually attracted many football lovers, have been able to cash in on the return of the European leagues, the live matches that attract the most customers who are football fans.
The ‘demise’ of nightlife in the cities and towns has not only affected the social lives of those who patronised it; it has also put workers of those facilities that operated in the night out of job, at least for as long as they remain closed.
Osu Oxford Street
In Accra, Joshua Bediako Koomson reports that the busy nights at Osu, which made it difficult to differentiate between working days and weekends, are completely gone.
Walking from the Danquah Circle along the Oxford Street, it was observed that the massive patronage in most eateries and restaurants, such as KFC, Frankies, Breakfast to Breakfast, etc, had declined.
Supermarkets such as the Osu Mall, Koala and others had also tasted the wrath of the pandemic, with only a few customers walking into those places.
Given all these, the usual traffic jams and massive crowds could not be seen, while many taxis had also parked, waiting to chance on passengers.
Most of the people who were out seemed to be out only to grab their meals or whatever they needed and return home.
Live bands, nightclubs
Live bands that usually livened up entertainment joints such as Chez Afrique at East Legon, the +233 Jazz Bar and Grill on the Ring Road, the Taverna Tropicana and the Piano Bar are all quiet now, and the joints are itching to have the sounds blare from their speakers and host patrons who, in the past, either sat and enjoyed the performances, all enthralled, or responded to the good music being blasted by getting on to the dance floor in appreciation, reports Rosalind K. Amoh.
Managers of some of the facilities toured who spoke to the Daily Graphic said they had been helpless in the current situation and were looking forward to being allowed to operate soon.
“If restaurants can operate now and people can have parties and other social events for up to 100 people, why won’t they allow us to also resume business and have the protocols in place?
“Our businesses are hurting and we have laid many of our staff off simply because we do not have the means to pay them,” many of them complained.
Meanwhile, some have resorted to hosting private parties, which are increasingly enjoying good patronage but, unfortunately, with very little respect for the protocols.
Last Friday, the Daily Graphic chanced upon such a party at a hotel at Cantonments, with most of the guests neither wearing nose masks nor keeping their distance socially.
Although under phase one of the easing of the restrictions restaurants are allowed to operate sit-in services, many operators said patronage had not been as huge as it was some time past, and understandably so.
“Of course, due to the pandemic, people are cautious and do not come out that much. Also, most of our guests are visitors from outside Ghana, and so with the borders closed, that has also affected patronage,” they said.
Behind closed doors
From Kumasi, Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor reports that the usually busy Bantama High Street has lost its lustre and become a pale shadow of its former self.
Most of the street pubs which operated mainly in the evenings have had to close down.
Aside from the food joints, which also operate beer bars alongside, bars that deal mainly in drinks have had to lock up.
Those who are unable to deal with the impact of the closure have resorted to clandestine operations, where the doors to the bars remain closed but serious business goes on behind the doors.
Usually, only ‘members’ who are regular patrons of the bars are admitted, but their patronage is kept on the quiet and hosted behind closed doors.
From the Western Regional capital of Sekondi-Takoradi, Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu reports that the nightlife in the Twin-City, which happens to be Ghana’s third largest city, is currently non-existent as a result of the ban.
The city, before the outbreak of the covid-19, had an extremely active nightlife, with live-band music booming from wayside drinking joints to four-star hotels.
At the moment, the hitherto legendary weekend life in the Twin-City, which usually started from Friday afternoons, with patrons trooping to pork joints, smoothies bars, and also popular pubs like House Two, KQ Bar, Vienna City, Ankara and many others, is non-existent.
Many people are scared about going out not only because of the Covid-19 but also because the metropolitan assembly has formed a task force whose members move around with whips to cane people they perceive not to be adhering to the safety protocols.
In the university community, with the absence of the students of the technical university, the usual bustling business activities are no more.