Alcohol producers ask State to extend bar operating hours
Alcohol brewers want the government to consider reviewing operating hours for bars and entertainment joints in a bid to spur economic recovery for the sub-sector.
In a petition,the manufacturers lamented that the current restrictions have negatively affected their business chains, noting that allowing bars and restaurants to operate longer would create more employment.
They observed that the Covid-19 positivity rate had reduced and vaccination rate increased, adding that “a fully functional sector would help businesses in the hard-hit sib-sector recover and become competitive.
“Increasing the availability of licensed alcohol would help keep customers away from the illicit variety, whose consumption has grown during the pandemic,” the said in a statement.
Under the aegis of Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (ABAK), the manufacturers led by chairman Eric Githua noted that bars are now allowed to operate until 7pm, which means that the majority, which open at 5pm, are only in operation for two hours in a day.
Githua referred the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) to Covid-19 positivity rate which has been averaging below five per cent – the recommended rate by World Health Organization – in the recent weeks.
“This calls for consideration of adjustment in public health and social measures in the context of Covid-19,” he added.
He said the negative socio-economic situation the alcohol industry was thrown into at the onset of the pandemic, increased youth unemployment and crime would be mitigated by allowing bars and restaurants to operate longer.
The alcoholic beverages industry collectively contributes more than Sh130 billion annually in taxes in addition to the thousands of Kenyans who are employed both directly and indirectly by the industry.
Githua said allowing longer hours would also have a positive impact on manufacturing, which is one of the current administration’s vital areas of focus under the Big Four agenda.
The Government announced a 30-day extension to the restrictions earlier October and has been under pressure to do away with the measures and concentrate on increasing vaccination.
Prof Omu Anzala, a member of the team that advises the government on Covid-19, is one of the experts who have asked the authorities to remove restrictions so as to stabilise the economy.