WAY FORWARD

Bar owners commit to Covid protocols to avoid closure

They have urged revelers to abide by the rules to avoid a resurgence of infections.

In Summary

•They estimated loss of revenue, jobs and livelihoods in the sector during the pandemic amounts to more than Sh150 billion.

•The sector associations said the self-regulating mechanisms set up at the height of the pandemic will continue.

Bar,Hotel and Liquor Traders Association secretary general Boniface Gachoka speaking at a press briefing in Nairobi. He is flanked by Pubs, Entertainment Restaurants Association of Kenya national chairman Michael Muthami/HANDOUT
Bar,Hotel and Liquor Traders Association secretary general Boniface Gachoka speaking at a press briefing in Nairobi. He is flanked by Pubs, Entertainment Restaurants Association of Kenya national chairman Michael Muthami/HANDOUT

Bar and restaurant operators have pledged to abide by the protocols to limit the spread of Covid-19 and offered to have their establishments become vaccination centres following the reopening.

The operators’ associations have also asked revelers to abide by the rules to avoid a resurgence of infections that would force the government to come up with restrictions that have hampered operations since March 2020.

“The hospitality sector has gone through one of the darkest periods in the history of Kenya,” said Frank Mbogo, chairman Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya, Nairobi branch.

He spoke during a press conference in Nairobi on Friday where operators said the lifting of the curfew by President Uhuru Kenyatta, and the clarification by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on opening hours, are a huge relief.

They estimate that the combined loss of revenue, jobs and livelihoods in the sector during the pandemic amounts to more than Sh150 billion.

“Allowing people to resume business is the first step towards attaining the economic prosperity that we all crave. We hope that with time, the 15,000 bars that were forced to shut down will revive or come back in another form," Mbogo said.

He said the sector expects to bring back more than 90,000 people who lost their jobs at the height of the pandemic that saw a number od businesses close down. 

The associations said the self-regulating mechanisms set up at the height of the pandemic will continue.

“Our wish, which we can all help fulfill, is to have operations going back to normal and to never have again to shut down. Operators will continue to abide by the Bar Kumi idea, which is a self-regulating mechanism to ensure adherence to the protocols,” said Boniface Gachoka, Secretary General Bar, Hotel and Liquor Traders Association (BAHLITA).

The operators urged the Ministry of Health to establish partnerships with some of them, especially the large establishments, to use their premises as vaccination centres.

“Bars are gathering points for people and like churches, can become one of the places where people can be sure to access vaccines regularly,” said  Gachoka.

The operators said such partnerships would come with incentives for drinkers to get vaccinated, such as a drink for everyone who goes for vaccination.

Simon Njoroge, the chairman of the Bar, Hotel and Liquor Traders Association, urged revelers to avoid drinking and driving.

Njoroge said the Interior Ministry should roll out a Rapid Results Initiative to tackle illicit and counterfeit alcohol, which have proliferated during the pandemic.