President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday set the stage for reopening of bars and night clubs after directing the development of rules to guide sit-down drinking in public places.
He asked bar owners and the Ministry of Health to jointly develop guidelines that would promote social distance and hygiene in the quest to strike a balance between promoting the hospitality industry and curbing the spread of Covid-19.
Kenya shut down bars on March 25 and last month banned restaurants from selling alcohol to contain the virus, which has affected 33,016 and killed 564.
Alcohol sales have plummeted as businesses continue to reel from the order that only allows for take-away, prompting firms like East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) to announce a 39 percent drop in net profit to Sh7 billion for the year ended June 2020.
“In the next 30 days, bar owners, in consultation with the Ministry of Health will develop self-regulating mechanisms as part of their civic responsibility to their clientele, in order to allow their resumption,” President Kenyatta said in a televised address.
He did not offer details on the required guidelines.
In the UK, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers are among the businesses that reopened last month.
The pubs and cinema will have to reconfigure seating, minimise self-service, cancel live acts and stagger arrivals.
In Kenya, EABL #ticker:EABL has announced a Sh532 million ($5 million) recovery fund to help pubs and bars resume trade post-lockdown.
The two-year plan dubbed “Raising the Bar” is part of the Sh10.6 billion ($100 million) kitty rolled out from June 1 in different markets through EABL’s parent firm, Diageo.
EABL says the recovery plan will offer targeted support like purchasing equipment such as hygiene kits, permanent sanitiser dispenser units, hand sanitisers, masks, and protection screens for bars that cannot maintain the one metre social distance.
The firm will offer the bars hardware and not cash through the recovery plan that comes in form of a free grant.
Mr Kenyatta extended a nationwide curfew for 30 days, saying coronavirus cases were rising in areas outside Nairobi and Mombasa — which were under lockdown for three months, adding that infections were slowing in the two cities.
He also ordered bars and nightclubs shut for another 30 days – but increased the number of people allowed to attend weddings, funerals and other events to 100 from 15.
“This crisis has, however, began to percolate to the counties. The new frontier of this invisible enemy is increasingly shifting to the counties and to our rural areas,” he said.
The President allowed hotels with residence or room services to sell alcohol, a month after he banned restaurants from selling beers and spirits.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala last month gave lodges, hotels and resorts a go-ahead to sell alcohol to their checked-in clients inside their rooms and not in public areas within the facilities.
Mr Kenyatta also allowed sit-down restaurants and eateries to serve customers dinner for an extra hour until 8pm.
Restaurant and bar owners, along with their employees, have been lobbying for an end to the curfew and that they should be allowed to sell alcohol.
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