Mombasa bar owners raise concerns over confusion on lifting Covid-19 curfew
By Philip Mwakio
| October 21st 2021
The associations of bar owners have raised concerns over confusion surrounding President Uhuru Kenyatta’s lifting of the Covid-19 curfew.
The associations said while they welcome the directive on the curfew imposed in March 2020, the lack of clear communication on operation hours from authorities has denied them space to operate.
During Mashujaa Day Celebrations at Wang’uru Stadium in Kirinyaga County, Uhuru said the lifting of the curfew followed a review of the containment measures by the National Emergency Response Committee and the National Security Council.
He said it had been established that the surge in infections had fallen below two per cent in the last two weeks.
Until then, bars and nightclubs nationwide had been operating from 5pm to 9pm daily in compliance with Covid-19 containment measures.
But Kennedy Mumbo, Secretary of the Mombasa County Bar Owners Association, said lack of clear details on whether they can operate at full capacity has left them with untold suffering for both owners and employees.
''We are in the dark. We do not know what to do next despite the announcement that the dusk to dawn curfew has been lifted,'' Mumbo said.
He said prior to the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a record 1,200 bars operating in Mombasa but the numbers fell sharply to about 500 bars due to the effects of the pandemic.
Yesterday National Police Spokesperson Bruno Shioso told The Standard that the lifting of the dusk-to-dawn curfew essentially meant “bars and other entertainment joints of a similar kind can operate outside the earlier stipulated time restrictions”.
“The time limit placed on bar operating hours was because the curfew was in place. Now that that restriction has been lifted, it essentially means bar operating hours revert to pre-curfew times – 5pm to 11pm on weekdays and 2pm to 11pm on weekends,” said Shioso.
The police spokesperson, however, said that that was his interpretation of the President’s speech, but “would seek further direction from my seniors”.
Mvita MP Shariff Nassir said the move was long overdue and called on Kenyans to aggressively play their part in full economic recovery.
''We piled pressure on the government to open up the economy and this is just one step ahead. There is a need to ensure that we continue keeping safe though,'' the MP said.
On the tourism front, Sarova Hotels and Resorts Managing Director, Mr Jimi Kariuki said the lifting of the curfew was good news to all and on a very special day when Kenya is celebrating Mashujaa Day.
He said the announcement will give businesses particularly those in the service industry that has been greatly affected by the curfew an opportunity to increase their hours of operation and in so doing bring more Kenyans back to work.
Kariuki said the move will also greatly aid in the recovery journey of many businesses that have been on their knees since the pandemic started.
He however said all and sundry must continue to observe the setout containment protocols issued by the Health Ministry.
His sentiments were echoed by the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) saying they are happy with the development.
"Curfew was an impediment to full tourism recovery. It was one of the last things that were holding back tourism recovery. Potential guests were not ready to travel for vacation to destinations with travel restrictions that altered their freedom of holiday,'' Coast Branch Executive officer, Dr Sam Ikwaye said.
Ikwaye said with the lifting of the curfew, the entertainment industry will start to boom.
The Kenya Association of Women in Tourism (KAWT) Mombasa County chairperson said the lifting is an early Christmas gift to players in the hospitality and tourism industry.
'' We have heeded to all the Ministry of Health Protocols including Covid-19 jabs. We are now optimistic of a vibrant tourism recovery,'' Janet Chamia said.
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