We would like to thank the President for hearing our pleas and reopening the five counties in what was previously known as the Disease Infected Zone, the revision of curfew hours, and allowing the resumption of operations by all bars to operate until 7pm. This reopening brings new hope to over 70,000 hospitality staff among our membership as well as hotels, as they are now able to return to work and earn a living.
While the resumption of operations by bars is welcome, we would like to ask the President to consider increasing the hours of operation. Whereas the president allowed bars and restaurants back in the 5 counties, he cut down the operation hours of these businesses in 42 counties back to 7pm from 9pm, even though their infection rates are lower. That will claw back some of the benefits for our businesses accrue in totality, across Kenya.
Furthermore, and related to that point, most of the bars we run operate from 5pm, which means that consumers will now have only two hours to visit our premises for a drink. An extension of a number of hours would enable us to resume business in a more complete manner and facilitate the resumption of business by the more than 15,000 bars that have been forced to shut down completely due to the vagaries of the pandemic.
In addition, we request county governments to consider a waiver on the licences, levies and other fees charged on our businesses to enable us get back on our feet. We appreciate the counties that have done it, such as Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, and Machakos, and ask others to come up with similar measures to stimulate the economy.
We do not take this economic reopening for granted – so we have asked our entire membership across Kenya to strictly adhere to the regulations issued by the Ministry of Health and county governments to limit the spread of Covid-19. We have a full set of protocols issued last year which have helped contain the spread – and we should do everything to follow them. We have set up a mechanism to self-regulate, including reporting own errant members to the law enforcement authorities. We hope these authorities will also allow due operation of our businesses without harassment at times when rules are followed.
The development of vaccines has given the whole world hope that we will soon have the Covid pandemic behind us. We would like to urge the Government to speed up the importation of vaccines and request for the prioritization of workers in the hardest hit sectors of the economy such as the hospitality industry.