Association of bar owners in Uganda call for reopening while unveiling Covid-19 guidelines

UGANDA – The Uganda Bar Owners Association has urged the government to open bars following massive losses the alcohol industry has incurred as a result of the COVID-19 related restrictions.

According to Tesfalem Gherathu, Chairman of the association, the bar business generates approximately Ush 2.8 trillion (US$757.5m) in revenue annually.

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Since March 2020, the businesses have suffered a revenue loss of Ush1.1 trillion (US$297.5m) and continue to plunge into the negatives as they remain closed, reports Business Focus.

“As time goes by, the situation becomes even direr for bar owners whose rent is overdue, continue to incur losses from expired stock, and are under even more distress as they fail to meet their credit obligations.”

Tesfalem Gherathu – Chairman Uganda Bar Owners Association

Showing their commitment to operate within the recommended guidelines aimed to curb the spread of the virus, the association has drafted standard operating procedures (SOPs) that the sector players will a bid to.

“We wish to make a plea to Government to allow us to re-open our businesses with strict adherence to COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

“The unprecedented nature of the pandemic has changed our way of life and how businesses operate and bars are not an exception,” said Gherathu.

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Other than loss of revenue, the closure has led to loss of jobs and further affected other service providers who including farmers who supply raw materials to breweries, among others.

In addition to that, alcohol companies have suffered a major blow on their sales volume as their main markets are dormant.

“As time goes by, the situation becomes even direr for bar owners whose rent is overdue, continue to incur losses from expired stock, and are under even more distress as they fail to meet their credit obligations,” he said.

The association, basing on the above, has urged the government to allow them to re-open their businesses with strict adherence to Covid-19 SOPs.

“The safety of our customers and the nation are a top priority for us and we will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are implemented and strictly followed,” the official said.

Some of the guidelines put forth on the SOPs include regular sanitization of hands and surfaces at the bar; wearing of masks by bar staff at all times and by patrons before admission into premises; Temperature checks and registration of client details to ease contract trancing when need be.

To further provide a conducive environment, bar owners will prioritize outdoor seating over indoor setting while operating at 50% of normal capacity to allow sufficient social distancing of 2 meters preferably.

Other measures included are no loud music shall be played to avoid clients having to shout when talking and cashless transactions will be encouraged.

All this will be done in strict adherence of the curfew hours with all bars to be close at 8:00 pm to allow sufficient time for clients to travel home before 9:00 pm.

In Neighbouring Kenya, the government reopened the bars at end of September after six months of shut down.

Following the resumption of operations, bars in Kenya are opened until 9p.m.

The most affected nation in Africa, South Africa recently announced the amendment of alert level 1 regulations to restore the normal trading hours for the sale of alcohol.

Since the start of Level 1 on 21 September, licensed outlets have only been allowed to sell alcohol for home consumption on weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

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