By Mourice Seretta
The Bar, Hotel, Liquor Traders Association (BAHLITA) have thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for hearing their pleas and reopening the five counties in what was previously known as the Diseas Infected Zone and reviewing curfew hours.
Addressing the media from a Nairobi Hotel on Wednesday, the Association led by its Chairman Simon Njoroge also thanked the President for allowing the resumption of operations by all bars to operate until 7pm.
‘This reopening brings new hope to over 70,000 hospitality staff among our membership as well as hotels, as they are now able to return to work and earn a living. While the resumption of operations by bars is welcome, we would like to ask the President to consider increasing the hours of operation. Whereas the president allowed bars and restaurants back in the 5 counties, he cut down the operation hours of these businesses in 42 counties back to 7pm from 9pm, even though their infection rates are lower. That will claw back some of the benefits for our businesses accrue in totality, across Kenya.’ Njoroge said.
The association asked the President to consider an extension of a number of hours to enable them to resume business in a more complete manner and facilitate the resumption of business by the more than 15,000 bars that have been forced to shut down completely due to the vagaries of the pandemic.
‘In addition, we request county governments to consider a waiver on the licences, levies and other fees charged on our businesses to enable us get back on our feet. We appreciate the counties that have done it, such as Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, and Machakos, and ask others to come up with similar measures to stimulate the economy.’ Njoroge added.
The association also said that it asked its entire membership across Kenya to strictly adhere to the regulations issued by the Ministry of Health and county governments to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Njoroge further said that they had a full set of protocols issued last year which had helped contain the spread and they should do everything to follow them.
‘We have set up a mechanism to self-regulate, including reporting own errant members to the law enforcement authorities. We hope these authorities will also allow due operation of our businesses without harassment at times when rules are followed.’ He explained.
The association has membership consisting of bar owners, hotel operators, and those who make a living selling alcohol from wine and spirits shops. They also have representatives from across 25 counties.