COVID-19 Update: Kenya reopens bars, lifts ban on alcohol sale

KENYA – The alcohol industry in Kenya is once again thrilled to fill the air with the fizz sound of beer bottles opening and the rising of foam from the pouring of champagne following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive on opening of bars after a six-month period of shut-down.

The President also lifted the ban on sale of alcoholic drinks and beverages by ordinary restaurants and eateries.

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“The prohibition against the operation of bars and prohibition against sale of alcoholic drinks and beverages by ordinary restaurants and eateries shall stand vacated with effect from September 29, 2020,” said the President.

Speaking during the National COVID-19 Conference held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) he further amended the closing time for bars, restaurants and eateries from 8p.m to 10p.m every day.

He added that their operations shall be with strict adherence to the applicable guidelines and protocols issued by the Health Ministry.

The decision to ease the containment measures was a result of a remarkable improvement in the country’s infection rate of 4.4 per cent.

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The World Health Organisation recommends that for a country to re-open, it should have a sustained infection rate of 5 percent for two weeks.

“The prohibition against the operation of bars and prohibition against sale of alcoholic drinks and beverages by ordinary restaurants and eateries shall stand vacated with effect from September 29, 2020.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta

The ban on sale of alcohol had led to massive losses of revenue, jobs and also hurt government income, with the taxman losing Sh16.8 billion (US$154.8m) in excise taxes (sin taxes) on products like beer and spirits.

With the resumption of operations, it will be a good time for alcohol giant, East African Breweries to embark on its Sh532 million (US$5m) recovery fund aimed to help pubs and bars recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic when they resume operation.

The two-year programme dubbed “Raising the Bar” is part of the US$100 million (ksh10.6 billion) kitty announced by EABL’s parent company, Diageo that will be rolled out from July 2020 in different markets.

Diageo designed the “Raising the Bar” programme following a global survey of bar owners to identify what they need to reopen after lockdown.

Their top priorities include hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment to transform how their outlets will work.

According to the Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff brands owner, the programme will offer targeted support like purchasing equipment such as hygiene kits, permanent sanitiser dispenser units, hand sanitisers, masks and protection screens for bars that cannot maintain the one metre social distance.

In addition, it will offer digital skills training and development of contactless technology.

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