Home Business Covid-19 forces hotel to suspend operations, retrench workers

Covid-19 forces hotel to suspend operations, retrench workers

by Sunday Express
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Bereng Mpaki

LESOTHO’s luxury hotel, Mpilo Boutique, has indefinitely suspended operations and retrenched all its 75 workers due to a financial crunch on the back of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The hotel is owned by business mogul Sam Makekane’s Matekane Group of Companies (MGC).

‘Mamotake Matekane, MGC’s head of corporate communications and marketing told the Sunday Express yesterday that all the 75 had been paid their severance pay and would be rehired once the hotel opens.

“We have retrenched all our 75 employees at Mpilo Boutique as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ms Matekane said.

“All the workers have received their retrenchment packages. But we are also going to try to re-employ all of them once the business situation improves.”

In a recent statement, the management of the establishment said the hotel had not been spared from the negative effects of Covid-19.

The company said it survives mostly on foreign tourists but there has not been any business since the banning of cross border travels as the country battles to contain the virus.

Lesotho embarked on a nationwide lockdown on 30 March 2020. The lockdown ended on 19 May 2020 and hotels have reopened but business has remained low. Hotels are also not allowed to book guests and are forced to open during the day only.

“The year 2020 has proven to be the most challenging to all businesses globally and this is due to an outbreak of the coronavirus, Covid-19. This pandemic has affected and disrupted life as we knew it. Most businesses are faced with the sad reality of downsizing and unfortunately, some are forced to close doors.

“Lesotho’s economy, same as the rest of the world has felt the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and difficult decisions have to be taken. Individual companies have been forced to adopt different strategies and Mpilo Boutique Hotel is no exception,” the company said.

The statement said business was immediately subdued when Lesotho imposed a lockdown in March this year so much that they could not survive by opening the restaurant only.

“A hotel survives through tourism, therefore lodging and dining, these functions we are unable to perform. It is with this background that the shareholders have decided to halt operations until there is a better movement in the economy and the virus has been put under control.

“… It is therefore on this basis that shutting down will mean retrenchments for all Mpilo Boutique Hotel employees. The shareholders plan, after a thorough review, to reopen and prioritise its former employees in the process of a phased operation as and when the time comes.”

The company expressed confidence that the situation would soon improve and “things will go back normal, or a new and better norm that will at least allow us to go back into business”.


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