Taking beer out of menu will ruin our lives, say bar owners

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 00:00 | By
Mombasa Bars, Hotels and Restaurant owners Janet Mirobi (left) and Margaret Olang (right) address press yesterday. Photo/PD/BONFACE MSANGI

Monica Kagia, Mathew Ndung’u and James Wakahiu

The government yesterday clarified that wines and spirits outlets will continue to operate.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, however, explained that they would only be allowed to sell alcohol on a take-away basis.

He warned owners of such outlets against turning them into drinking joints, saying such action would lead to their licences being permanently revoked.

Kagwe maintained there will be no turning back on the implementation of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive on the 30-day ban of alcoholic drinks and beverages in eateries and restaurants across the country. 

In his daily briefing on the Covid-19 situation, Kagwe reiterated that the government will not hesitate to “permanently revoke licenses” of those who will be found violating the president’s directive.

“There will be no sparing of violating restaurants and matatus…as you have heard, those who will be found violating the regulations will have their license permanently revoked.

This is not a threat but a measure to keep you safe,” said Kagwe who further warned: “Those who will be found turning their houses into house parties will also face the full force of the law.”

The CS spoke even as owners of wines and spirits shop demanded that the government clarifies whether it had banned the sale of alcohol even on a take-away basis.

Hoteliers, bar and restaurant owners at the Coast also complained about the president’s order on the ban on alcohol saying it would negatively affect their businesses.

Following the directive, hoteliers in Mombasa raised concerns that their hopes of making a turnaround with the upcoming resumption of international flights come August might have been thwarted by the abrupt “removal of alcoholic drinks and beverages from the menu of drinks in restaurants.”

The hoteliers and bar owners argued that the ban will see hotel and restaurant businesses lose clients who frequent their premises for meals and drinks.

“A hotel such as mine where we host local tourists operates on orders of various meals.

While the customers await their order, they usually ask for a beer now that we cannot sell them beer means we are going to lose customers and we might end up closing,” said Jane Mirobi owner of Jawembe Restaurant in Mombasa town.

Mirobi said that since the travel ban was lifted, business has been good and warned that the ban on alcohol would negatively affect their businesses.

On her part, Margret Olang who owns and operates Metric Annex hotel said the directive could force hoteliers and bar owners to enter into illegal business.

“If the president wants us to stop selling alcohol he should start by closing down the breweries,” she said.

Olang criticised the ban on the sale of alcohol saying bar owners had gone to great lengths to ensure that their premises met all the measures stipulated by the health ministry to curb the spread of the virus.

“How will we make ends meet, it means that our children will have to go hungry,” she lamented. 

John Rock who owns Samba bar and restaurant said he had already incurred huge losses since the pandemic hit the country.

Rock further said that he had only opened his restaurant fourteen days ago after meeting the requirements stipulated for him to re-open his restaurant but he would now be forced to close again following the president’s directive.

A spot check by the People Daily revealed shut doors at all the outlets we visited in Thika, Juja, Ruiru, and Gatundu North.

“We’re adopting a wait and see approach. The matter is too hot now. Police and chiefs are all over the place waiting to pounce on those who flout the directive, said a bar owner who sought anonymity.

In the Public Health (Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19) Rules 2020 that were introduced in March to enforce restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, individuals found drinking alcohol in bars and restaurants risk a Sh20,000 fine, a jail term of six months or both.

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