All restaurants, hotels, salons, spas and second hand clothes dealers in Mombasa have been directed to reapply for licences as part of stringent reopening measures to combat Covid-19.
The applications will be vetted by the County Covid-19 Emergency Committee co-chaired by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo.
Application forms will be available on the county’s website and in all sub-counties.
Upon making their application, the facilities will be inspected and vetted, certificates of compliance issued and approval granted for re-opening once all requirements have been met.
During a meeting held on June 24, 2020, the committee resolved that there shall be continuous monitoring of reopened businesses by a multi-agency team led by the county health department.
However, hospitality industry players in Mombasa have protested that the conditions set by the committee are too strict and expensive.
The Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye, said while they appreciated measures being taken by the county committee to stem further spread of the novel virus, they were concerned that some of these were untenable.
“Some of the clauses will make it difficult for already suffering enterprises to comply. Continued closure of these premises will further erode demand and appeal for destination Kenya when normalcy returns. In essence, the guidelines do not help the destination to respond and recover from the effects of the pandemic,” said Dr Ikwaye.
Among the measures that the committee want met by hoteliers include keeping spas and children parks closed and limiting the number of people attending large gatherings such as seminars, weddings and workshops.
Others are doing away with buffets and all central serving of food, setting up a holding area for suspected Covid-19 cases, implementation of contactless check-in, providing guests with hygiene kits, introducing technological systems such as guest messaging for direct and rapid contact with guests for reservations, refund, cancellation or information about infections
The committee also wants facilities to adhere to both national and county government guidelines and regulations on Covid-19.
Places targeted for reopening include hotels, eateries and restaurants, guest houses, barber shops and salons, spas, indoor games facilities, sports and second hand clothes dealers.
Robert Kiri, a hotelier, said some of the reopening conditions would be difficult to implement because they involve additional work in hotels.
“It is not going to be cheap to meet all the requirements. We need the Tourism Finance Corporation to hasten the disbursement of loans to enable some hoteliers carry out some adjustments,” said Kiri.
He said some of the regulations called for new installations which would destroy or alter the aesthetics of some facilities.
“One will not expect a hand washing basin to be erected right at the front office while some of these new requirement are putting a burden on the service personnel who are not necessarily trained in health issues,” he said.
He challenged the county administration to lead by example by showing its level of preparedness to host visitors after Covid-19.
The hoteliers have called for further consultations with the committee.
“It is our expectation that the committee will engage us further because our mutual goal is to keep staff in their jobs as we prepare for normal operations,” said Ikwaye.
He said apart from meeting government and county regulations, hotels will have to use millions of shillings to retrain their workforce.
“Our objective as players in the tourism industry is to secure destination Kenya and reassure all stakeholders that we are doing everything to make the destination safe,” he said.
Some of the new regulations require screening of staff and clients at entrances, hand hygiene and physical distancing and notices announcing that people suspected to have Covid-19 will be denied entry.
Hotels and eateries are also required to ensure that tables are spaced six feet apart in dining areas and have four people for every 10 square feet with the distance from the back of one chair to that of the other set at one metre.