The Bar Hotel and Liquor Traders Association of Kenya (BAHLITA) has noted with great concern the increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and reports of stretched healthcare facilities across Kenya, based on the Ministry of Health reports.
As members of the association, we support the COVID-19 emergency response measures already instituted by H.E the President and the National Security Advisory Council. We appreciate the effort by Ministry of Health in rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and we urge our members to take it.
We also appreciate the fact that given where we are in the pandemic the greatest responsibility in the control of the infection rates depend on individual behaviour and adherence to COVID-19 rules. That is why we are calling on all our members to continue adhering to the Alcoholic Beverage Guidelines for Business operations during COVID-19, which were published in collaboration with BAHLITA, Alcoholic Beverage Association of Kenya (ABAK), Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade & Enterprise Development, Ministry of Health and the National Multi-agency Command Centre. The protocols clearly spell out the responsibility we have as business owners in ensuring compliance with the containment measures in our business premise. We have taken this responsibility very seriously because health and well-being of our staff and customers is a topmost priority: –
1. We create sustained COVID-19 awareness campaigns for our staff members through collaboration with institutions such as AMREF, County Public Health Officers and Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL). This is in line with the COVID-19 protocol requirement to have designated staff members in establishments selling alcohol to ensure compliance with COVID-19 rules of operations. So far over 3500 bars have gone through this specialized Covid-19 training and the challenge to our members is to ensure that the capability/skills acquired from the training are constantly and strictly implemented within the business premises.
2. We support our members invest in social distancing and hygiene equipment in their premises. This has been negotiated loan facilitates with Banks, which has also helped revive 5% of alcohol selling establishments that had collapsed due to the containment measure taken in 2020. Over 7,000 alcohol selling establishments remain closed due to capital constraints.
3. Through the association collaboration with County Governments Departments responsible for Health Services and Liquor Licensing Committees, there is peer accountability through Bar Kumi initiative which we kicked off last year after the reopening of the sector. Enforcement action on over 760 outlets have been taken and this has considerably changed our members commitment to strictly adhering to the COVID-19 protocols and rules. In view of the 7 months shutdown last year and the devastating economic and physiological impact the shutdown continues to have on our members, personal care and responsibility remains a key pillar for our members to support COVID-19 containment and recovery measures.
We acknowledge the support from the County Governments of Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Nyeri, Kwale and Mombasa in reducing the cost and simplifying the process of Liquor licensing, given the negative impact of the pandemic on the industry. We encourage other counties to support our members reduce the cost and complexity of doing business.
BAHLITA believes that the containment measures already in place are adequate and the key focus for government should be on enforcement and taking strict personal responsibility in implementing all Covid protocols. We support any enforcement actions taken against our members who flout any COVID-19 protocols.