Industry

Hoteliers get nod to sell alcohol in guest rooms

Summary

  • Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala reiterates President Uhuru Kenyatta’s orders saying alcohol sale to the public remains banned but hotel guests can now be served in their rooms.

Hotels and restaurants will be allowed to sell alcohol in their premises after the government eased the presidential directive that barred liquor sales to stem the spread of Covid-19.

In correspondence seen by the Business Daily, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala reiterated President Uhuru Kenyatta’s orders saying alcohol sale to the public remains banned but hotel guests can now be served in their rooms.

“The President's announcement on the issue of the sale of alcohol was clear that alcohol should not be sold to the public in hotels/restaurants to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. However, after consultation with the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health, serving of alcohol can only be served in private and in their rooms and not in the public domain," reads the letter from CS Balala to the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers chief executive Michael Macharia dated August 4, 2020.

The CS was responding to queries by the hoteliers who were seeking for the relaxation of the measure having just reopened after four months of closure following measures imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr Macharia, in his letter to Mr Balala on August 3, said hotels had included liquor in their reopening offers and were seeking clarification on the way forward. 

On July 27, President Kenyatta banned the sale of alcoholic drinks in all hotels and restaurants in the country and directed that all bars remain closed indefinitely to slow down the transmission of Covid-19.

In his televised address, Mr Kenyatta said the government had noted with concern that people were socialising without regard to protective behaviour in environments selling alcohol, posing one of the greatest risk factors in the country's battle against the pandemic.

The ban on sale of alcohol in restaurants and eateries is in force up to end of August, while bars remain closed indefinitely.

The President also ordered for permanent withdrawal of licences of operators in breach of the alcohol ban.

According to a Central Bank of Kenya survey of hotels in the country, hotel bookings have rebound from the lows recorded since April, indicating a change of fortunes for the sector that has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic economic disruption.