1,156 JOBLESS

Lift Covid curfew in Western Kenya, bar owners tell Uhuru

Stricter restrictions imposed on 13 counties following a spike in coronavirus infection

In Summary

• The Bar Owners Association of Kenya wants the government to reduce curfew hours and allow businesses to operate until 9pm and not the current 7pm.

• Association chairman Bonface Gachoka said the President could help revive the hospitality industry by relaxing the restrictions.

Anita Nyambura at Zipang Bar and Restaurant prepares for the reopening of bars on September 29.
BACK TO BUSINESS Anita Nyambura at Zipang Bar and Restaurant prepares for the reopening of bars on September 29.
Image: MERCY MUMO

Bar owners have asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to lift the curfew and other Covid-19 restrictions in Western Kenya and save 1,156 laid-off workers from pain. 

The state imposed tougher restrictions on Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Trans Nzoia, Siaya, Nyamira, Homa Bay, Migori, Kericho, Bungoma, Kakamega, and Bomet counties following a spike in Covid-19 infection in June.

The Bar Owners Association of Kenya wants the government to reduce curfew hours and allow businesses to operate until 9pm and not the current 7pm.

Association chairman Bonface Gachoka said the President could help revive the hospitality industry by relaxing the restrictions.

“We would like the government to consider the plight of our brothers and sisters in the western region. We believe the measures implemented have worked so far and the infection rates have reduced enough to allow our resumption of operating hours,” Gachoka said in Nairobi.

The lobby decried the economic disruption experienced by bar owners in the 13 counties and donated 50,000 masks.  

“As we look to get the economy back on course, we need to remember that the hospitality sector needs all the support it can get and increasing operating hours will aid us,” Gachoka said.

The bar owners said the rise in the supply of illicit liquor was alarming but blamed it on Kenyans seeking alternatives to enjoy themselves following the closure of bars.

"More people are now taking spirits, distilled alcohol and traditional liquor due to the closure of bars and the reduction of drinking hours. Unscrupulous manufacturers have then seen an opportunity," he said.

Gachoka praised Kajiado Governor Joseph Lenku for adding two extra operating hours for bars in the county.

“We request more county governments to follow the precedent by Kajiado county, which has increased the hours of operation for bars by allowing them to open at 3pm,” Gachoka said.

Since the start of the pandemic, 23 counties waived licence fees for bar owners.