Bar, hotel owners confident of staying in business as COVID-19 restrictions loom

Bar, hotel owners confident of staying in business as COVID-19 restrictions loom

Bar and hotel owners are confident of remaining in operation even as the return of COVID-19 related restrictions looms on the back of increased infections. According to the representative of the wider hospitality sector who spoke to Citizen Digital, the businesses have worked to abide by re-opening protocols issued by the Ministry of Health. “We have largely abided by the rules and regulations. This has been evidenced by low infection rates among our members of staff,” said Mike Macharia, the Chairman of the Association of Hotel Keepers. “We were the authors of the same issued protocols, and as such, we cannot be the same lawbreakers.” In spite of taking part of the blame for the recent surge in COVID-19 infections, bar owners and operators believe this does not imply the enforcement of blanket punishment for the sector. “We would want to see the government deal with bars which have broken the law individually instead of implementing blanket punishment. We see no reason why we should be asked to shut shop,” said Chairman of Nairobi’s branch of the Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurant Association of Kenya (PERAK) Franklin Mbogo. While no additional protocols were issued to guide the operations of bars, Mbogo says the majority of businesses have abided by standard operating procedures to contain the spread of COVID-19. “The protocols have been very clear. What some were expecting were additional guidelines. Standard procedures have required us to implement measures such as physical distancing, the wearing of masks, hand sanitization and temperature checks,” he added. President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to review COVID-19 related restrictions as he meets county governors on Wednesday before addressing the nation following the surge in infections. Players in the hospitality sector will be hoping for a reprieve in the review having marked devastation in the second and third quarters of the year. Limited operations and shutdowns have dwindled prospects for the sector which has seen many businesses that were closed fail to come back to life. According to the second-quarter GDP print by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the accommodation and food services sector was the hardest hit by measures implemented at the end of March with output contracting by an alarming 83.3 per cent between April and June. Bars and restaurants have been seen as easy targets in countries which have re-introduced previous COVID-19 restrictions including Britain, France and Germany.

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