Bar owners claim Covid-19 killed a third of their joints

Bar owners claim that a third or 16,000 establishments have shut down since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Kenya in March last year asking President Uhuru Kenyatta to relax restrictions used to contain the disease.

The bar lobby group said its members have also been forced to lay off half of its staffers or close to 190,000 workers as a result of bars and restaurants are working one shift instead of the usual two.

Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (PERAK) said the first wave of closures happened when all bars, restaurants and nightclubs were ordered shut at the beginning of the pandemic in Kenya.

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While there was some relief for the sector when the Government allowed partial reopening, things have not improved well enough for the sector to fully recover.

“Today, more than 30 per cent of the bars and restaurants that were in operation before the pandemic have shut down completely. That’s about 16,000 businesses that have collapsed, and given that every restaurant employs at least 10 people, that’s about to 160,000 people losing their livelihoods,” Perak said in a notice.

When the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in Kenya in March 2020, the government closed schools, imposed a curfew, banned public gatherings and at one-point restricted movement in and out of the most-affected regions.

Some of the measures were eventually relaxed, and schools were re-opened but President Kenyatta extended Kenya’s nightly curfew to March 12 as part of measures aimed at taming the spread of COVID-19.

The sustained measures instituted in January this year are up for review in a week’s time.

Bar owners are appealing to the President to consider lifting the restrictions on operating hours or reduce the curfew hours, if not do away with it altogether.

They claimed that infection rates have been climbing over the past three weeks even with bars and restaurants operating on reduced hours pointing at resumption of political rallies that are being allowed by law enforcement while they remain shut.

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