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Bar owners want Uhuru to reduce levy charges, relax covid-19 measures

By Fredrick Obura | April 9th 2021
The new sitting arrangement at Sabina Joy, Nairobi in a file photo

NAIROBI, KENYA: The Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (PERAK) has appealed to the Government to review the Covid-19 safety measures, which have had a devastating impact across the hospitality industry in the country. 

PERAK officials have asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to at the very least give a fixed timeline on when the measures could be relaxed, issue a waiver or a reduction in the payment of levies by the hotel industry to the Government and allow for restaurants to serve food and alcohol to sit-in customers during the designated hours of operations. 

PERAK Director Michael Muthami said: “It is our prayer that the Government will give us a definitive timeline in his next address. We are heavily relying on his support to reduce the level of strain felt by the sector players – both owners and employees. For 2020 and 2021, we have paid for the annual 18 statutory levies to the government yet we have not been fully operational. We request that the Government gives us a waiver or significantly reduce these statutory payments in accordance with our new working conditions.” 

Bars and restaurants are currently operating at 30 per cent capacity and are only open for take-out and deliveries. This has led to high levels of unemployment and significantly reduced revenues. 

Francis Mbogo, the chairman of PERAK’s Nairobi Chapter, said: “The hospitality sector is among the sectors that are experiencing the highest Covid-19 protocols, yet there is no evidence that the current high infectious rate the country is experiencing is attributed to this industry. We urge that the President listens to our appeal as our employees, who live hand-to-mouth, need to get back to work and continuing earning their living so they can afford rent, food and school fees.” 

“As a sector, we are willing to take the Covid-19 vaccination and the government should consider prioritising the hotel employees to receive free vaccination, as we all work together to curb the spreads of the virus,” concluded Mbogo.   

The entertainment industry supports an entire chain of other sectors, such as taxi operators, bodaboda operators and fresh produce suppliers, and the closure of an establishment means that a lot more people suffer.

On March 26, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced tough covid-19 containment measures affecting Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants. He banned the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants in Kajiado, Machakos, Nakuru, Nairobi and Kiambu Counties.

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