Companies

Brewers seek 2 more drinking hours as Covid infections fall

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The EABL Ruaraka factory. The firm is seeking to raise Sh6 billion through medium term note programme. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Alcohol manufacturers have petitioned the State to increase bar operating period by two hours in the wake of falling Covid-19 infection rates.
  • Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (Abak)—manufacturers lobby—wants the State to have bars opened until 9 pm from the current closing time of 7pm to protect jobs.
  • The lobby’s petition comes at a time when Kenya has recorded a decline in Covid-19 infections while the number of admissions in health facilities is also falling.

Alcohol manufacturers have petitioned the State to increase bar operating period by two hours in the wake of falling Covid-19 infection rates.

Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (Abak)—manufacturers lobby—wants the State to have bars opened until 9 pm from the current closing time of 7pm to protect jobs.

The lobby’s petition comes at a time when Kenya has recorded a decline in Covid-19 infections while the number of admissions in health facilities is also falling.

“Abak notes the Covid-19 positivity rate in the last week has been averaging below five per cent, which is the recommended rate by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for consideration in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of Covid-19,” Eric Githua, chair of Abak said in a statement yesterday.

WHO recommends that the positivity rate should remain below 5 percent for at least two weeks before governments consider relaxing social restrictions.

The positivity rate — the proportion of tests coming back positive — climbed sharply by a double-digit from July, raising concerns among health officials.

The rate has dropped from 14.5 percent on August 15 to 2.7 percent yesterday as the government steps up testing and vaccination.

In Kenya, 1,126,850 people have been fully vaccinated up from 746,267 on August 14 while the number of those who have received the first jab has jumped to 4.34 million from two million over the same period.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on October 5 extended curfew hours from 10pm and 4am up to October 31. Bar operators were also asked to continue operating from 5pm to 7pm.

“Abak humbly requests for a review of the Covid-19 measures restricting bar operation and allowing bars to operate for two additional hours,” Mr Githua said.

The petition comes barely three days after Bar Hotels Liquor Traders Association called for a full reopening of the economy, saying that more than 250,000 jobs have been lost since the onset of Covid-19 in Kenya.

East African Breweries Limited (EABL)—a member of Abak-- posted a three per cent drop in net sales for its first half ended December as sales were pummelled by the closure of bars. Post-tax profit plunged by a third.

EABL recorded a drop of Sh7.6 billion in sale of alcohol in the year ended June 2020.