Kenyan bars face indefinite closure in five counties, sale of alcohol banned in eateries

KENYA – The government of Kenya has indefinitely suspended operations of bars in the capital Nairobi and four other counties as COVID-19 infections hit record levels in the East African nation.

President Kenyatta, in an address to the nation has termed the five counties i.e., Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado, Kiambu, and Nakuru as “disease-infected areas” since 70 per cent of Kenya’s COVID-19 infections cases were recorded in the said counties.

As part of a string of new measures aimed at combating the increasing cases of COVID-19, Bars and all liquor joints have been shut down beginning midnight Friday 26th March 2020 until further notice.

“Whereas the foregoing measures will have a negative impact on the economy, these measures are temporary … the cost of not acting now will be far much greater.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta

Similarly, the sale of alcohol in eateries in the five counties has been prohibited with the Head of State further directing hotels and restaurants to provide take away services only, for an unknow period pending further directive.

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However, operations of bars, restaurants and eateries in the other 42 counties shall continue as is, but they shall at all times be conducted in strict fidelity to Ministry of Health Guidelines, failure to which appropriate action against management, staff, patrons and premises shall be taken.

In September 2020, the government had directed that the closing time for bars, restaurants and eateries to be 8p.m every day.

“Whereas the foregoing measures will have a negative impact on the economy, these measures are temporary … the cost of not acting now will be far much greater,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

The stiff measures come in the wake of a spike in Covid-19 infections as positivity rates average 22 per cent from an average of 2.6 per cent in January as the country faces a third wave of the pandemic.

The directive is set to take a toll on an industry that has been struggling to regain its footing since the start of the phased re-opening of the economy in July last year.

The Kenya Breweries Limited officially rolled out the US$3 million recovery fund aimed to help the hospitality industry i.e. pubs and bars recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2020.

The two-year programme dubbed “Raising the Bar” is part of the US$100 million kitty launched by EABL’s parent company, Diageo last year July.

Application for the funds was undertaken until mid-February which saw hundreds of outlet operators sought after the much-needed aid.

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With the recent ban, the industry players are left at their own mercies, waiting for the next directive.

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