2020 has been one heck of a year. It was meant to be the beginning of a new decade with fresh optimism and hope of better things to come. But then it had its own plans and that plan was delivered in the shape of a global pandemic called COVID-19.
Since the arrival of the pandemic, businesses have been hit significantly but then also these businesses, across all sectors and regions, have shown how resilient they are to anything including a pandemic.
The highly experienced journalists in the Business and Financial Times’ (B&FT) newsroom took time out to review the year across sectors and regions. Enjoy the read.
Pandemic redefines and digitises the economy
By Obed Attah YEBOAH
It all began as a bright year. Hopes were high in almost every sector that this year would be better and bigger. And yes, it started as such. Government had projected in its 2020 budget that the economy would grow at 6.8 percent – attesting to the fact that everyone was bullish about the year.
But then, a certain novel disease that came to be known as the coronavirus reared its ugly head. Initially it started in China, and so it was thought to be far away; hence, its probability of affecting the economy negatively wasn’t envisioned to be great. Gradually, the disease was declared a global pandemic and Ghana recorded its first case on March 12, 2020. At once, everything changed.
The pandemic ravaged every sector of the economy. All economic activities literally came to a standstill. Within the twinkle of an eye, everything was lost. Now the economy that was expected to grow at 6.8 percent at the end of year, has fallen into recession as of end third-quarter. Overall growth is now projected at 1.9 percent. Yes, that is how seriously the pandemic has decimated the economy.
But the situation is not entirely negative, as the pandemic has also awakened our senses to embrace digitisation. Today, most people have resorted to doing business online and electronically rather than the old-fashioned style of human-to-human contact. And this is positive, as it is driving the country’s digitisation agenda.
And for especially the financial sector, the new normal has really come to solve a problem. Despite disruption caused by the pandemic, the May 2020 banking sector report showed an astronomical jump in demand for banks’ digital services. Due to the surge in use of electronic banking services, net fees and commissions grew impressively by 16 percent from the 3.6 percent recorded in first quarter of last year – signalling a new window of opportunity for banks.
The stay-at-home orders, social distancing and other protocols brought by the pandemic have awakened customers’ desire to limit the use of cash in their business transactions, as well as their frequent movement and visits to banking halls.
Thus, a risk management expert, Francise Owusu-Acheampong, says the banking industry stands a better chance of keeping profit margins up if it remains alert to the opportunities brought by the pandemic.
“There is a future for the industry as well as associated risks…the pandemic is opening our eyes to other avenues that we have not exploited to the full. From my perspective, I think the pluses will be more than the minuses. The most important thing is to identify the risks and manage them well, and then you can get residual profits out of them.
“So, the increase in mobile banking and other electronic platforms show there are a lot of pointers to a growth trajectory that any serious bank should begin to look at and see what they can make out of these opportunities,” he told B&FT in an earlier interview.
Besides the banking sector report that gives positive signs the pandemic has forced people to embrace digitisation, statistics from the largest payment systems platform, Mobile Money, offers an even better testimony.
The Summary of Macroeconomic and Financial Data (September 2020) published by the Bank of Ghana shows that the mobile money interoperability platform – which makes it possible to transfer money not only to different mobile networks but also to banks, E-zwich cards etc. and vice versa -saw its transactional value hit GH¢685million, representing a more than 940 percentage points increase from the GH¢65.7million recorded same period last year.
The point is even more clear when the data are backdated. The very month (March 2020) the coronavirus disease was first recorded in the country, transactions on the mobile money interoperability platform jumped 31.4 percent.
Prior to this, the interoperability platform recorded a contraction of 1.6 percent and 2.5 percent in January and February respectively; indicating that most consumers were still comfortable with using hard cash for their business transactions. However, the sudden appearance of coronavirus on March 12 automatically changed the status quo, as many – especially the educated and elite class – resorted to cashless transactions for fear of contracting the disease through the exchange of hard cash.
The change in consumer behaviour also reflected in the number of transactions recorded on the interoperability platform. The number of transactions increased to 4,580,000 in August while that of March was 1,987,000; signifying a 130 percent growth compared to a 2 percent decline in February.
The data further shows an increase in active mobile money accounts to 15.9 million in August from 14.8 million in March. The number of active agents also increased to 280,000 from 239,000 within the stated period.
All these point to one direction: the people, including those in the informal sector, have finally embraced the idea of going electronic or digital, and this has set the stage for the economy to take off well post-pandemic. So in the coming year – 2021, it is expected that measures introduced by government and the private sector’s own strategies to hit the ground running following a difficult year, and will work for the economy to return to its pre-pandemic growth path.
Impact on agriculture
By Lawrence SEGBEFIA
According to data published by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), household incomes in Ghana have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The data show that 77.4 percent of households (approximately 22 million people) saw declines in income after Ghana recorded its first cases of COVID-19 in March 2020. The Agriculture sector provides income for many people, particularly smallholder farmers in rural areas of the country; and players in this sector were not spared.
On food and nutrition insecurity, a study done by the Agriculture Policy Research in Africa (APRA) on south-western Ghana revealed worsening food and nutrition insecurity concerns due to the impact of COVID-19.
More than a half (58.2 percent) of respondents in the APRA study indicated that cost of living in the area has increased as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, thereby imposing substantial food and nutrition insecurity threats.
In addition, the household food insecurity experiences reported by the GSS indicated that almost half (45.4 percent) of households ate only a few kinds of food; 44.6 percent were worried about not having enough food to eat; 42.8 percent ate less than they thought they should; 41.4 percent were unable to eat healthy and nutritious/preferred foods; 39.1 percent had to skip a meal; 31.3 percent ran out of food; 26.8 percent were hungry but did not eat; and 8.9 percent went without food for a whole day.
Perhaps the most devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agricultural sector is the price hikes in foodstuffs that were witnessed after a partial lockdown was announced in Accra and Kumasi.
The effect was seen when food inflation saw an increase from 8.4 percent in March 2020 to 13.7 percent in July 2020. According to the GSS Household and Jobs Tracker, 77.4 percent of households were severely affected by the increases in food prices.
Looking at the impacts of COVID-19 on agribusinesses in Ghana, a survey conducted by the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG) showed that even though COVID-19 movement restrictions exempted food supply, the restrictions created bottlenecks in the system which actually slowed and, in some cases, inhibited food supply. This impacted activities of suppliers in the agribusiness value chain.
In Ghana, the hospitality industry – comprising restaurants, hotels, public events and educational institutions – had to cut down the demand for food due to restrictions. This negatively impacted the agriculture sector, since farmers were forced to discard their farm produce or drastically reduce prices to offload their produce. In the Bono Region, for example, thousands of crates of eggs went bad due to a sharp fall in demand.
The publication from the CAG showed that the average monthly revenue of agribusiness firms decreased by 61.2 percent, with small-scale agribusinesses reporting average monthly revenue shortfalls of 77.4 percent.
Impact of COVID-19 on export commodities
Even though movement of people through the country’s borders was banned, the export of key foreign earners such as cocoa, oil, gold, and Non-Traditional Exports were not halted. However, the impact of the COVID-19 on oil revenue was devastating – as global prices of the commodity fell as low as 20 dollars per barrel, partially due to a price-war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
The development compelled government to review its projected revenue from oil receipts downward, even though it requested more money to spend in curtailing spread of the pandemic.
On the other hand, the gold price gained as more investors moved their funds from oil and other commodities into gold assets. This saw the global price of gold soaring on the world market.
In the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the Ghana Cocoa Board leveraged the gains of technology and was able to deploy virtual means of engaging investors – after which it signed a syndicated loan of US$1.3billion for the 2020/2021 crop season.
Aviation gets stuck on ground
By Osei Owusu AMANKWAAH
For the first time since its establishment, the nation’s aviation space- just like many others globally – came to a standstill. It was estimated that the sector experienced a 90 percent revenue shortfall due to its inability to make any profit during the period the air-space was closed to international flights to prevent importation of the disease.
This led to the Ghana Airport Company (GACL) and Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) running to government for a bailout. Eventually, they secured a GH¢312million facility from Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG) to stabilise their operations, especially paying workers’ remuneration as COVID-19 adversely impacted their finances.
The uncertain nature of the virus and its everchanging mutations made it difficult for government to take a decision on reopening the country’s airspace to international flights. But eventually, on September 1, 2020, the country’s main air border – Kotoka International Airport (KIA) – was opened to international flights; a major step in restoring the economy to normalcy.
The decision by government to open air borders to international flight was not without issues; a mandatory COVID-19 test of all inbound passengers which cost US$150 became the bone of contention, especially as travellers are expected to produce a negative PCR test 72 hours before enplaning to Ghana.
Many argued that following the success of the ‘Year of Return’ initiative that resulted in an economic boost of US$2billion according to Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, and the expectations of the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative, the amount will discourage tourists from coming into the country. But government seems not to be budging, as it says the health risks in softening their stance would be dire.
On the domestic front, operations have returned to normal as domestic airlines have moved away from observing social distancing on board – but have been asked to fully observe the COVID-19 protocols.
With all these out of the way, the Kumasi, Tamale and Sunyani airports are also benefitting from major improvements to infrastructure.
After a decade and a half of advocacy by aviation industry players for Ghana to follow best international practices, parliament finally unanimously passed the Air Navigation Services Agency (ANSA) bill to decouple Ghana’s air navigation service unit from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
Also, the Aircraft Accident, Investigation and Prevention Bureau bill, 2020, was passed; leading to the establishment of an Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, which will investigate all aviation incidents and accidents in the country in line with international best practices.
In all this heat, the aviation industry gained a boost with a new airline adding Accra to its international destinations, as Qatar Airways launched direct flights from Accra to Doha.
These developments have ensured that operations in the sector return to normalcy and play their required role to support economic development. There is hope that with the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine, the aviation space will be revived sooner than later.
Ships on the high seas feel the heat
The story of how the maritime sector performed under COVID-19 pressure is summed up in the first quarter of 2020 maritime report by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA). The report revealed that volume of goods passing through the country’s two seaports declined by 44.9 percent in the first quarter of 2020.
The drop in throughput was influenced by corresponding decline in all the trade types namely: imports, exports and transit/transshipment. Per the data, total throughput reduced to 3.77 million tonnes in first quarter of this year from 6.84 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2019.
Import trade volumes decreased by 24.5 per cent and export trade volumes decreased by 66.1 percent as compared to quarter one last year. In all, the total transit/transshipment trade volume in the first quarter of 2020 decreased by 76.1 percent over first quarter 2019.
This is one of the worst ever performances of the sector in recent decades, a development that has pushed several players to lay off workers as there is little job to do. The shipping lines are counting their losses as many of them are not able to return containers with loads as exporters are weary about economic conditions.
Another subsector that has felt the impact of COVID-19 in the maritime sector is the transport and logistics sub-sector, by extension transit trade. The haulage business saw a significant nose dive as there was little or no cargo to cart into or out of the port.
Another development that affected the industry was the halting of oil and gas exploration due to shocks to supply chains and reduced industrial activities. This heavily curtailed cargo traffic through the port. With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the oil and gas industry causing massive deflation in prices, many of the companies in the oil and gas exploration sector in the country ceased operations for some time, thereby, negatively impacting the port of Takoradi which serves as a hub to receive oil and gas related cargo to Ghana.
But in all this, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has said that from its interim data, cargo throughput for 2020 would slightly increase over that of 2019, even though the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected operations. The Director-General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Michael Luguje has projected that cargo traffic for the year 2020 in Ghana’s ports would not significantly depart from previously recorded statistics.
According to him, barring COVID-19, the nation’s ports were expected to handle around 30 million metric tonnes of cargo which is a 3-million-tonne improvement over what was recorded in 2019.
“We were going to perform much better than 2019. Usually, we look at between 5-10 percent growth per annum so definitely we would have been hitting close to 30 million by the end of the year” he said on Eye on Port.
Mr. Luguje further projected that the peak period prior to Christmas, where the port experiences an influx of imports, will see the port replenish what was lost to COVID-19.
Impact on SMEs
By Dziedzom ATOKLO
“Success is not final; failure it not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”- Winston Churchill.
This quote summarises the many phases small-medium scale enterprises have gone through in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Business Tracker, a survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, the partial lockdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and instituted in the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi metropoles forced many businesses to close.
During the partial lockdown, 35.7 percent of business establishments and 24.3 percent of household firms reported being closed. Many businesses in the key partial lockdown areas recorded the highest level of closure, with Accra having a 51.5 percent closure rate and Ashanti Region recording 55.4 percent.
The most-affected sectors were education, financial services, transport and storage as well as manufacturing, the survey stated. It is a well-known fact that many SMEs are found in the manufacturing sector, and the report found that even after lifting the lockdown measures, 16.2 percent of business establishments and 14.6 percent of household firms were still closed.
The manufacturing sector recorded a 92.7 percent sales decrease, even with lifting the partial lockdown. With the shocking decline in sales recorded for the month of April 2020, the nation lost an average of GH¢115.2million – which accounts for 60.6 percent in revenue loss.
Aside from the massive loss of income and complete closure of many firms, there was the angle of difficulty in sourcing raw materials needed for production. More than three-quarters, making 75.1 percent of businesses, reported difficulty in accessing imports; while many importers reiterated that the level of imports had decreased. On the front of financial woes, the Business Tracker Survey found that many small-medium enterprises were grappling with a deterioration in their cash flow and decreased access to finance, to either scale-up production or keep the business afloat.
Many entrepreneurs in the retail and wholesale sectors as well as the manufacturing sector were largely hit, forming a combined total of 160.9 percent. This translated to many businesses stating that financial institutions tightened their terms of loans. Businesses that had already existing loans explained that their financial institutions also tightened the terms of their loans.
This level of financial shock found 24.7 percent of SMEs facing decreased access to finance and translated into many of them reducing cost – through reducing staff hours to completely letting go of staff, cutting wages among others. In order to stay in business, many SMEs started employing unorthodox ways of doing business and adjusting their business models to suit the times.
These new business models saw many SMEs relying more on digital solutions, such as mobile money and the Internet for sales. The business tracker survey revealed that 9 percent of all business establishments adopted or increased their use of the Internet for their operations. The sectors that used technology most are the agriculture and other industries, with the food and accommodation sectors being those which used digital solutions the least.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only wrought havoc; it has also served as a means of improving some businesses. One of the sectors that saw a boost is the transport sector.
In an interview with the B&FT, Kyerewire Danquah – a transport dealer, explained that the pandemic increased his income margin greatly.
“During the course of the pandemic, the business picked up, slowed down and picked up again; because many people who were saving up to buy big cars tended to go in for smaller ones, as they felt it was safer to use one’s own car than join public transport. This helped boost the business as my cars became highly in demand. The only downside is the increase in motor traffic on our roads,” he said.
According to the survey, only 3.5 percent of firms received some form of governmental support and cited lack of awareness as a predominant reason why many businesses do not get support from government. This accounted for 35.1 percent of businesses without aid from government, while 12.2 percent of businesses did not apply for support because they thought they would not get governmental support.
Observations made by the survey indicate that many businesses would like other policies such as the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) to aid them in the short- to medium-term. Businesses emphasised a need for clarity in rolling out these policies for the long-term.
A report by audit firm Deloitte explains that not only did the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, but it has had a significant impact on the technology sector – from raw material supply to disruption in the electronic value chain. It however admits that the disruption caused by the pandemic has affected the sector in a positive way by causing an acceleration of remote working, and rapid focus on evaluating and de-risking the end-to-end value chain.
Furthermore, the report reveals that to holistically appreciate the pandemic’s impact on the technology sector, one has to take a look at the sub-sectors in technology.
With the advent of remote working, many companies have invested in new smartphones to keep in touch with their employees in order to make work faster, easier and smoother. In many developed countries, security software will see third-order benefits with an increase from organisations looking to secure their endpoints, particularly cloud-based tools, log management and VPNs.
The report further stated that technology leaders will be defined by how they manage situations to recover, respond and thrive through driving technology adoption and innovation to support the ‘future of’ scenarios.
This idea espoused by the report has in one way or another been supported by many businesses in Ghana. Director of Human Resources at Vodafone Ghana, Hannah Ashiokai Akrong – a panellist in this year’s Ghana’s Most Respected CEO’s Breakfast Series, spoke on how technology has made it possible for her team to be more productive. She stated that an employee – who was in the UK prior to Ghana’s partial lockdown and could not make it back before the lockdown was instituted – has been very productive working remotely with the aid of technology.
The Deloitte report also offered a practical way forward in harnessing technology by implementing a digitally-enabled future work tool for many businesses.
COVID-19 and education: private schools shattered
The advent of COVID-19, which led to the closure of schools as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus has seen private pre-tertiary educational institutions among the worst hit.
Ahead of the new year, members of the Conference of Heads of Private Second-Cycle Schools (CHOPSS), continue to count their loses. After several calls for government support to remain afloat and ensure the future of young students under their care is not jeopardized have yielded little to no results, the residual optimism is ebbing away.
The education sector has been plagued by many challenges but the pandemic has left seen it record some of the highest incidents of human capital flight, layoffs, deterioration of unused infrastructure and increasing penalty on individual and collective outstanding loans.
Limited internet coverage, coupled with poor network service and high cost of data are some of the factors that have impeded remote learning. This has left parents and other stakeholders in the education sector apprehensive over the state of education when a semblance of normalcy returns.
Whereas trade and manufacturing sector have resorted to local production rather than imports due to border closures which have boosted local industries, the same cannot be said of the education sector as the sector is crippled with lack of technology.
Beyond the material and tangible losses recounted, the consequential effect of student preparation for the academic studies, their ability to complete syllabus and an academic calendar thrown out of the window lingers on.
One head teacher argues that the impact is bigger as many parents have lost their jobs and others are earning a fraction of what they used to earn pre-pandemic. This, he noted has resulted in default of school fees payments and will only get worse with the full resumption of schools.
Unfortunately, a year that started on a good note for many in the education sector both public and private schools as new strategies were rolled out, infrastructure projects commissioned, new policies introduced and staff efficiency improved, has completely turned around.
Government support for the education sector was evident from on the onset of the year as the Free Education programme continued sturdily, clearance was given to Ghana Education Service for the recruitment of graduate teachers and ancilliary policies were introduced.
For instance, the Ministry of Education secured a US$150 million World Bank development fund as early as mid-January 2020, for the implementation of Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project (GALOP), a programme that could benefit private sector schools as well.
The expected outcomes earmarked included improved teaching practices, improved learning outcomes and strengthened data-driven accountability systems for school management and estimated to impact 3.8 million pupils, but COVID-19 has affected this project.
Recall that private second-cycle schools were dealt a heavy hand with the introduction of the Free Senior High School programme as enrolments dropped to a record low.
With hope for support to private schools growing dimmer by the day, and the possibility of all their students returning to school when schools finally reopen unguaranteed, as well as the likelihood that there will be new enrolments, some private school heads are of the opinion that it will take a miracle for private schools to bounce back stronger in early days of 2021.
Impact on Ashanti Region
By Kizito CUDJOE, Kumasi
The outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, barely a few weeks before 2020 had seemed so far from the busy business corridors of Ashanti Region, best known as Ghana’s cultural hub and the centre of small businesses. Yet, the region had its share of impact from the disease upon it hitting the country.
Following this development, the general rate of commercial and business activities in the Kumasi Metropolis became sluggish. For instance, the central business district of Kumasi – Adum, Kejetia and Central Market and many more trading centers in the metropolis – which were hitherto immersed with business activities were severely affected, especially with the restrictions and final partial lockdown announced by government.
For example, the UNDP study on business activities in key cities, including Kumasi, reported that over 36 percent of firms had to close during the partial lockdown, with 16 percent continuing to be closed. “Firms in the manufacturing sector were mostly affected, followed by trade and other services, and the accommodation and food sectors. Of the firms that remained open, 88 percent experienced a reduction in sales.”
The story was even more harrowing for those in the informal sector, though official data on this is hardly available.
For traders who ply neighboring countries to bring in their wares, the closure of land borders till date has been a huge blow to them. Business operators who import their wares from Asia, especially China, are the hardest hit.
The impact of COVID-19 outbreak has been so dire that the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) later announced it will lose about GH₵8million – a quarter of its projected tax revenue of GH₵32million for the year.
But the breakthrough for other entrepreneurs in the region, just like many other places in the country, was the sale of Veronica buckets, liquid soap, tissue, nose masks and other items which were recommended for use to limit spread of the disease.
This brought some boom in the local markets, where several traders – both new and existing businesses in the sale of such items – cashed in on the patronage.
The most-affected, of course, has been the small and medium scale enterprises which dominate the informal sector. Kumasi, known to be the second-busiest city in the country, is highly dominated by the informal sector – of which almost 90 percent are small and medium scale in nature.
SMEs play significant roles in development of the local economy in terms of job creation, innovation of new ideas, contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and welfare of the local people.
Though the local SME sector is confronted with its own unique set of challenges, the efforts by government almost two years into its administration to rebrand the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) were hailed by many business operators as a gamechanger, giving the assurance of enabling the agency to help provide businesses with credit.
From Bono and Ahafo Regions
Poultry farmers in the food basket region reels under the pressure but rise again
By Edward Adjei FRIMPONG
In May 2020, the B&FT reported that the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the poultry sector, particularly market destruction, was so intense that the issue of egg glut nearly collapsed the sector in major production areas like the Dormaa enclave in Bono Region.
This was the result from consequential effects of COVID-19 in the country and its restrictive containment measures – such as closure of schools, ban on social gatherings, and closure of tourist sectors among others – which culminated in a drastic reduction of demand for eggs. The disturbing situation left thousands of egg crates worth millions of Ghana cedis to rot at the various farms.
The report indicated that prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, the bulk of eggs were supplied to schools, hotels, restaurants and food vendors like the many noodles and fried-egg operators on the streets. However, these off-takers justifiably cut down demand significantly, leaving farmers to their fate with excesses. It stated that there were no egg storage facilities across the production areas.
The trickle-down effect of the situation manifested in grave economic hardship for actors like farmers, farmworkers and input suppliers. The B&FT learnt that farmers across Dormaa resorted to credit sales to free their stores, but the buyers were however hesitant to take the supplies from the helpless poultry farmers.
Dormaa is one of the poultry hubs in the country; the poultry value-chain is the leading economic activity in that part of the country. According to anecdotal evidence from the farmers, they produce about 30 percent of the country’s total egg supply. The effect of COVID-19 on the agribusiness rendered a majority of the poultry farmers financially incapacitated to meet obligations like payment of workers’ salaries, loan repayment, and settlement of indebtedness to input suppliers. The farmers ended up selling the birds to ease their economic hardship.
In a related development, it was also reported that COVID-19 precautionary and control measures like border closures, ban of public gatherings – including conferencing and other social events like weddings – also paralysed the hospitality industry. The situation compelled many hotels in the erstwhile Brong Ahafo Region to completely or partially shut down till further notice.
The General Manager of the Eusbett Hotel 3-Star facility in Sunyani, Robert Mensah, in an interview with the B&FT said since beginning of the COVID-19 crisis the hotel has taken some difficult but inevitable measures – including job-cuts to stay afloat.
He revealed that occupancy rate in the 150-room hotel with ten conference centres at some point reduced significantly – from 88 percent as at imposition of the ban on public gathering to two percent.
The situation, he noted, accounted for cutting down staff from 154 to 60 as at May 2020. He added that the hotel had to make do with 60 workers to run a two-week shift system wherein 30 people were on duty at a particular time.
It was further captured that Falls Palace Hotel, a 2-Star facility at Kintampo in the Bono East Region, closed down after it kept recording zero occupancy for a while. The management of the 25-room hotel closed it on March 24, 2020.