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Bars to hire Covid officers in new rules

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The Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya director Mike Muthamia (left) and Nairobi branch chairman Francis Mbogo during a media briefing on Covid-19 protocols in Nairobi. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

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Summary

  • The officers will restrict the number of revellers allowed into a premise and report any suspected case of Covid-19 infection among staff and drinkers.
  • Bars will also be required to close dance floors and reduce contact between staff and drinkers.

All bars will be required to hire Covid-19 liaison officers to ensure that drinkers observe protocols meant to curb the spread of the disease in the facilities.

The officers will restrict the number of revellers allowed into a premise based on the Health ministry guidelines and report any suspected case of Covid-19 infection among staff and drinkers under the regulations that are yet to be gazetted.

The liaison officers, who will be the link between the State and the establishments, will also ensure that bar workers observe a yet to be developed Covid-19 code of conduct in a raft of stiff regulations for bars.

Bars will also be required to close dance floors and reduce contact between staff and drinkers, designate spacious waiting and collection areas for couriers and customers as part of curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The establishments will also have to display signage to show that they have reached the maximum number of drinkers to meet the social distancing requirements.

Alcohol manufacturers and importers had early this month petitioned the State to publish guidelines on the consumption of beer in bars in the wake of a spike in coronavirus cases and deaths.

“Every establishment shall appoint and adequately train a Covid-19 liaison officer. The liaison officer shall be the point of contact with the Ministry of Health, Sub-County Liquor Licensing Committee and other sector players keep abreast of the emerging health, safety, and hygiene information and preventative measures related to Covid-19,” the regulations read in part.

Bars will become the first businesses to have a liaison officer following concerns that reckless behaviour by drinkers would fuel the spread of the disease.

The regulations come at a time Kenya is witnessing a spike in daily Covid-19 infections, which coincided with the easing of restrictions from September that including the reopening of bars and learning institutions.

Kenya has confirmed more than 80,000 Covid-19 cases from 47,843 on October 23, reflecting average daily infections of 998 in the last 30 days after the easing of the restrictions.

Bars committed to cut sitting capacity by half under social distance rules, have contact free-bill payment, restrict drinking at the counters as the industry turned to self-regulation due to a lack of regulations from the State.

Alcohol Beverages Association of Kenya — a lobby group for alcohol manufacturers and importers had in its petition raised concerns about unsafe socialising behaviour by some establishments operating with little regard to the Covid-19 guidelines.

Kenya shut down bars on March 25 after reporting the first coronavirus case occasioning an economic meltdown in the industry marked by thousands of job losses and permanent closure of some establishments.

East African Breweries Limited #ticker:EABL net profit dropped to a six-year low on the State closure of bars to contain Covid-19 spread highlighting the impact of the restrictions on the industry.

The brewer’s net profit dropped 39 per cent to Sh7 billion for the year ended June 2020 with net sales for the second half of the year plunging by 29 per cent.

The EABL then rolled a two-year Sh532 million ($5 million) recovery fund to help pubs and bars resume trade post-lockdown as part of easing the pain on the sector.