Inside Politics

Alcohol dealers ask State to publish bar protocols on Covid

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020 00:00 |
Alcohol manufacturers and importers want regulations to govern how bars are supposed to operate amid virus surge.

RULES: Dealers in alcoholic beverages yesterday called on the government to publish protocols that will guide the operations of alcohol-selling establishments during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In a letter addressed to  the Ministry of Health, Alcohol Beverages Association of Kenya (Abak) urged the government to expedite the publication of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), saying doing so would support the establishment of a peer accountability framework and the fight against errant alcohol sellers.

“In absence of the protocols, Abak has observed with a lot of concern unsafe socialising behaviour by a few establishments that are operating with little regard to the Covid-19 guidelines,” said Abak Chairman, Gordon Mutugi.

Bar Owners

Prior to the re-opening of on-trade consumption of alcohol on September 28, Abak and Bar Owners Association participated in the drafting of protocols that were to guide how bars would operate during the pandemic facilitated by the National Multi-Agency Command Centre.

“It was expected that the SOPs would be published after the Presidential address to allow the industry drive self-regulation, encourage peer accountability and compliance with the Covid-19 rules within bars and pubs. 

However, the SOPs are yet to be published,” Mutugi said.

The prolonged closure of bars and other alcohol selling establishments in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 has hit bar owners and other industry stakeholders hard.

According to Abak, about 20 per cent of alcohol selling establishments have been unable to open their premises due to outstanding rent arrears and business capitalisation challenges.

Optimal levels

The association said most establishments are operating below optimal levels.

In August, Hotel keepers and Restaurant owners initiated a public petition to allow for the sale of alcohol in restaurants, saying their sector stood to lose over three million jobs and billion of shillings in lost business.

As a result of the effect of the pandemic on bars and other alcohol selling establishments, East African Breweries Ltd (EABL) recorded a nine per cent decline in net sales for the financial year ended June 30.

Profits for the largest beer manufacturer in the country also declined by 39 per cent to Sh7 billion down from Sh11.5 billion the previous year.

EABL had announced a Sh 532 million recovery fund to help pubs and bars resume trade post-lockdown.

It said the recovery plan would offer targeted support like purchasing equipment such as hygiene kits and hand sanitisers. 

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