Economy

Alcohol manufacturers urge State to extend bar operating hours

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EABL plant in Ruaraka, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Alcohol manufacturers have requested the government to extend bar operating period by two hours to create more jobs and help businesses in the sector recover from the economic fallout of Covid-19 pandemic.

  • In a petition to the National Emergency Response Committee (Nerc),  Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (Abak)  said bars currently have only 2 hours a day to operate since they are open until 7pm and the majority open at 5pm.

  • According to Abak, the additional bar operating hours will enable the alcohol industry to reverse the negative socio-economic effects of the pandemic and help the government to reduce youth unemployment and crime.

Alcohol manufacturers have requested the government to extend bar operating period by two hours to create more jobs and help businesses in the sector recover from the economic fallout of Covid-19 pandemic.

In a petition to the National Emergency Response Committee (Nerc),  Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (Abak)  said bars currently have only 2 hours a day to operate since they are open until 7pm and the majority open at 5pm.

According to Abak, the additional bar operating hours will enable the alcohol industry to reverse the negative socio-economic effects of the pandemic and help the government to reduce youth unemployment and crime.

The lobby also said that extending the operating hours will improve access to licensed alcohol and reduce consumption of illicit brew. 

“Abak notes the Covid-19 positivity rate in the last week has been averaging below five percent, which is the recommended rate by the World Health Organisation for consideration in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of Covid-19,” said Mr Eric Githua, the Abak chairman.

The government shut down bars in March last year when the pandemic hit to contain the spread of coronavirus. They were later opened in June but allowed to operate only until 7pm, instead of the previous 11pm.

Bar, Hotel, and Liquor Traders Association (Bhalita) had made similar requests to the government in May this year, citing losses that caused most of their businesses to shut down leading to loss of jobs.

The government had reviewed Covid-19 containment protocols in August this year allowing matatus to carry full capacity, but the dusk-to-dawn curfew, the ban on public gatherings, and the 7pm deadline for bars were extended.

Prof Omu Anzala, a member of the government’s advisory team on Covid-19, has urged the authorities to remove the restrictions as some bars abuse the restrictions and remain open beyond the specified hours.

Dr Gitahi Githinji, the CEO of Amref Health Africa, has also advised that the government should ease the restrictions, and focus on ensuring there is enough oxygen, health workers, funding, and large-scale vaccination.

The National Emergency Response Committee has not yet given a response to the request by the association.