3 out of 10 bars yet to reopen after COVID-19 enforced closures

Nearly 30 per cent of bars or an equivalent 3 out of every 10 bars/entertainment joints are yet to re-open following COVID-19 enforced closures.

This is according to new data provided by the Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (PERAK).

The lobby is pushing for the revision of operating hours to include a potential lift of the night time curfew.

The permanently shut establishments represent about 16,000 businesses covering the livelihoods of an estimated 160,000 Kenyans.

“It has become increasingly evident that infection rates are not wholly determined by the fact that this or that sector is in operation as they have been climbing over the past three weeks even with bars and restaurants operating on reduced hours. We believe that with the adherence to the guidelines implemented by our sector, the increasing number of infections could be attributed to other sectors,”the lobby said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We would therefore like to appeal to His Excellency the President to consider our plight and lift the restrictions on operating hours or reduce the curfew hours, if not do away with it altogether. If we continue operating in the current circumstances, our various sectors will continue on a dangerous downhill trend that is likely to result in more suffering and joblessness.”

Calls by the bar operatives add to an intensifying push on government to pull the plug on remnant COVID-19 containment measures.

On Friday for instance, the Federation of Kenyan Employers (FKE) called for the lifting of the night-time curfew to allow for the full resumption of commercial activity.

“The lifting of existing curfew hours will allow businesses to operate optimally. In areas classified as high-risk areas, the government should consider applying special restrictions.

The growing calls to end curfew hours are however against a steady rise in the number of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

Health pundits have warned of the likelihood of a third wave of the pandemic.

President Uhuru Kenyatta alongside the National Emergence Response Committee on COVID-19 is expected to review and review directions to containing the pandemic from next week.