By: Isaac Thuku @MountKenyaTimes
Bar owners have asked the government to consider extending operating hours to help their businesses survive the Covid-19 shock.
The entertainment industry is one of the hardest hit sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to millions of job losses.
According to bar owners’ association, the worst affected in the bars and liquor store because of strict operating hours which now stand at two hours from 5PM to 7 PM.
They say over 20,000 bars have closed business translating to over 250,000 jobs lost during the pandemic period.
Keroche Breweries Chief Executive Tabitha Karanja called on the government to fully reopen bars and liquor stores to avoid further job losses.
Mrs Karanja who spoke Tuesday during the launch of the brand X 8.8 double strength beer, said the national and county governments should waive taxes and licenses for the struggling sector to enable the sector to survive the pandemic.
She called on county governments to take a cue from Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, and Machakos counties which had come up with stimulus packages for the sector and waived licenses, levies and other fees charged on their businesses.
Premium Brand X is the 1st Kenyan manufactured strong beer that falls under strong beers in the world.
The beer will retail at 200 shillings per 500Ml bottle, targeting the mid and high-end market.
Keroche breweries is the second-largest beer maker in Kenya, with an installed capacity of 40,000 bottles per hour.
The Bars, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association (BAHLITA) secretary-general Boniface Gachoka had in May said the operating time of 5-7pm was not sufficient to recoup the losses made during the lockdown and to hire employees.
“Before we were ordered to close our operations two months ago, we were operating at a capacity of 35 percent. Since reopening, we are operating at a capacity of 14 percent. That accounts for employees and revenue. If we are given a chance to operate until 9pm we will increase the capacity to 35 percent, ” Gachoka said.
This even as President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday evening, announced the extension of the nationwide curfew for another 60 days in bid contain the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking at State House, Nairobi, during the sixteenth address on Covid-19 pandemic, the President declared that the curfew would continue from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am.
“That for the rest of the territory of the Republic of Kenya, the nationwide curfew shall continue to be observed from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am for a further containment period of 60 days,” the Head of State said.
The President also extended the curfew hours in Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kericho, Bomet, Trans Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa-Bay and Migori up to 31st July 2021.
Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe this month invoked the public health act to review Covid-19 measurements in the Counties of Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley declaring them as new hotspots.
“The hours of curfew are maintained at between 7:00 p.m and 4:00 a.m in the COVID-19 hotspot zone; which comprises the counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa-Bay, Migori, Busia, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho, Bomet, and Trans-Nzoia up to 31st July, 2021,” said the Head of State.