Restaurants get a boost as opening hours extended

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 00:00 |
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. PHOTO | FILE

Restaurants and hotel owners yesterday got a major boost after the government extended their operating hours to 7.30pm from the previous 4pm deadline.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the extension was meant to give traders more time to conduct business before the curfew which starts at 9pm.

There was more relief for the hospitality sector after the minister said that once tested, a hotel or restaurant employee will not need to do another test unless the establishment does not follow set protocols or a person shows symptoms of the disease.

“The operators are advised to strictly adhere to the protocols that are provided for by the ministry,” the CS said during the daily updates on the status of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Arising out of discussions and reflecting on restaurant behaviour, the response committee has directed that hours of business for restaurants will be extended to 7.30pm.

This will allow the workers in restaurants, most of whom are actually being housed by the restaurant owners themselves within the hotels, enough time to beat the curfew hours.”

The CS was, however, categorical that bars have not been allowed to operate yet.

Public Health officials in their respective areas are required to monitor restaurants’ operations to ensure the guidelines set out by the Health ministry are complied with.

The CS directed the officials to conduct regular inspection of restaurants and any operator found to have flouted the guidelines will have their certificate and operating licence permanently revoked, in accordance with the Public Health Act, Cap 242.

Hospitality sector

Some of the guidelines restaurants are expected to follow include having thermo-guns at the entrances to their premises to take temperature, hand washing stations and soap at the door and sanitisers at strategic places.

Restaurants are also required to ensure that every client entering the establishment wears a face mask, provide masks for all food handlers, make provision for social  distancing, and ensure all restaurant workers are tested for Covid-19.

“We understand that the containment measures come with a high cost; they have impacted on our everyday lifestyles and even our economic activities, leading to some losses,” said Kagwe.

The hospitality sector is one of the areas that have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic as most facilities were forced to close and send their employees home.

But even as they resume business, most restaurants are struggling to operate.

For instance, business in most restaurants in Nakuru County is yet to pick because customers perceive the establishments as a threat to their health.

Recently, Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary general Francis Atwoli urged the government to allow restaurants to fully re-open.

He urged the Health ministry to expedite the process of reopening business closed when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in March. Other than hospitality, Atwoli also wants the aviation and manufacturing sectors reopened.

Underlying conditions

Yesterday, an additional 133 people were reported to have contracted the virus, bringing the caseload to 3,860.

Out of the new cases, 88 were reported in Nairobi, 27 in Mombasa, seven in Kiambu, five in Busia, while Murang’a, Kilifi, Kajiado and Migori had two cases each.

Another 40 patients were discharged from various hospitals, bringing the tally of recoveries to 1,326. One patient succumbed to the virus, raising the number of fatalities to 105.

Kagwe said it’s almost 50-50 per cent for patients who have succumbed to the disease, in terms of those with underlying diseases against those who have died out of coronavirus alone.

However, the highest number of fatalities has been those who have been ailing from diabetes, cancer and hypertension.

And as statistics have shown from the beginning, the number of males (88) was higher than that of women (45).

As he raised concern over the high number of transmission among males, Kagwe urged men to emulate women in fighting the disease by being more careful in their conduct to avoid infection.

“We need to understand why so many men are getting this virus. If we were able to drop the number of men to the level of number of women you can see we would drop the numbers substantially,” said Kagwe.

“I think it is something to do with behaviour. Women are essentially exhibiting a more careful and consistent approach to this disease than men are and we, as men, must adopt the same attitude,” he said.

More on National