Bar owners recount losses as joints remained closed

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Bar and wine and spirits owners in Mombasa celebrate reopening of bars and extension of working hours for eateries. Photo/PD/BONFACE MSANGI

When the government ordered indefinite closure of bars, entertainment joints and lounges as a containment measure to stem the spread of  Covid-19, Janet Mirobi’s fear was confirmed.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe went ahead and sounded a warning to bar owners found violating the regulations that their licenses would be revoked and their joints closed indefinitely. 

Following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Monday announcement to reopen the sector in a bid to ease some of the containment measures, bar and restaurant owners have welcomed the decision.

However, they are recounting their losses as they return to pick up their businesses. 

Traders interviewed by People Daily were happy with the announcement. Others recounted some losses and damages they incurred as their businesses remained closed.

Mirobi runs Jawambe Hotel and Restaurant in Ganjoni in  Mombasa. She was forced to shut the only enterprise she has been running  for decades. This left her employees’ future in disarray. 

Due to the financial challenges  she was facing, Mirobi was forced to send all her 29 employees on unpaid leave, as all her income revenues were curtailed. 

Assess situation 

“I had no option but to send them home. They have really suffered. My business as well.

Many of them had to travel backup country because their income was cut short indefinitely,” Mirobi said.

She adds: “We had suffered enough. I am quite relieved now that the economy has been opened.

I will recall some of my employees who had equally suffered the economic shocks.

We are optimistic that resumption of bar businesses will boost our economy,” Mirobi told People Daily.

Doreen Ndanu, another bar owner in Kisimani Bombolulu, welcomed the President’s decision, saying it will offer them a lifeline to make money ahead of the festive season.

She says life has been unbearable by the fact that she solely depended on her business to fend for family.

“It is the best decision for us. We have been struggling with rent for our business premises. It was a very tough, but somehow we can manage to put food on the table.

According to Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurant Association of Kenya (Perak) National chairperson Alice Opee, the closure had resulted in about 500,000 job losses in the entire sector, sinking close to Sh50 billion in revenues.

President Uhuru said public health officials had assessed the situation and advised a phased re-opening of the bars, which will be allowed to operate until 10pm beginning today.

“You can now go and drink alcohol,” the President said at the end of a Covid-19 National Conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi on Monday.

He, however, warned that Kenyans must continue to observe Ministry of Health guidelines on Covid-19 management that include social distancing and other containment measures. 

Elsewhere in Nakuru, a spot check within the town’s CBD revealed that a number of joints opened their doors ready for business. 

At Tas Hotel and Bar, the proprietor, Paul Kinyuru, welcomed the move by the President to reopen the industry saying it was long overdue but well thought. 

He added that with the announcement, they have started recalling employees back to work gradually. Kinyuru is optimistic that the industry will soon stabilise. 

According to Kinyuru, they intend to hold a small service at the bar to dedicate the business before they can fully resume operations. 

“We will observe MoH regulations on handwashing, social distancing and wearing of masks to ensure the curve remains flattened,” said Kinyuru. 

When People Daily team visited another joint, Lasida Grill, the manager, John Mwangi, said they have hopes of reviving their revenues and also employ more people and in the process defibrillate the economy. 

Mwangi has called on other bar operators to ensure they follow the Covid-19 measures to avoid closure. 

“We want to express our gratitude to the President. The decision was long overdue. We expect the curve to remain low and eventually defeat this disease,” said Mwangi. 

Revelers were already present at the joints throughout the town.  Mike Maina,a reveller, said a lot of businesspeople were comfortable meeting at entertainment joints saying the reopening of bars and extension of curfews will serve them good. 

“Businesses had dwindled at it was a fact that a huge number of people used to meet at bars and entertainment joints,” said Maina. 

Charles Mwangi, another reveller, noted that Kenyans love entertainment and being locked out was necessary acknowledging the reopening is welcomed. 

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