By Kumerra Gemechu
ADDIS ABABA, June 3 (Reuters) - Restaurants may still be officially open in Ethiopia, but diners are staying away due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Connecting the two is an Ethiopian food delivery service, Deliver Addis, which has seen demand surge since the start of the health crisis.
For many restaurant kitchens, take out has become an important avenue to staying afloat since Ethiopia confirmed its first case of coronavirus in March and restrictions on public gatherings came into effect, leading to people staying at home.
In a leafy suburb of the capital, Henok Girma, 26, who runs a communications company, fancied trying some Mexican food. He used Deliver Addis' mobile app to order.
"When it comes to working from home in a safe environment and being able to order whatever I want, it has really made that aspect of this whole situation a bit easier to deal with," he said.
The owner of La Morena, a Mexican restaurant in Addis Ababa is also relieved.
"Our business virtually overnight slowed down to almost 10% of what we used to be," said Selamawit Paulos.
But joining Deliver Addis "really kept our business alive," she added.
Launched in 2015 by United States-raised Feleg Tsegaye, the company is growing, hiring staff and drivers to keep up with the spike in demand.
"We don't see that subsiding any time soon," Tsegaye said.
Ethiopia has confirmed nearly 1,300 positive cases of COVID-19, with 12 deaths as of June 2.
African consumers have typically been shy of ordering good online but the coronavirus pandemic has created a boost for e-commerce to flourish on the continent as people are forced to stay at home. (Reporting by Kumerra Gemechu; writing by Nazanine Moshiri; editing by Omar Mohammed and Alexandra Hudson)
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