Mnaweza kukunywa pombe sasa (You can now enjoy your drinks). Those were the words of President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday which excited Kenyans as he allowed bars to resume operations six months after they were shut to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The president’s decree sparked a frenzy on social media immediately after the announcement.
The reopening of the drinking joints is part of the government’s gradual reopening of the economy after the Covid-19 disruption.
And enjoy Nairobians did.
On Tuesday many bars in the city and its environs starting selling alcohol as early as 10am while disregarding social distancing.
From mid-morning, bars started inviting their clients with offers as they opened their doors after a six-month closure.
“The opening day… We are back! Sexy Tuesday featuring the Xstenders. We are open from noon with special prices on Black Label, JD and Hennessey,” XS Millionaires Club on Baricho Road, Nairobi, posted on Facebook.
Kifaru Place on Mombasa Road welcomed back its patrons with a mouthwatering reopening offer.
“Five mbuzi to be slaughtered to welcome back our loyal customers. Join us today (Tuesday) from 2pm for free mbuzi eating as we appreciate your support over time. We will have the best music,” the facility offered.
At the newly opened Whiskey Barrels in Kasarani, revelers walked in without face masks and no one bothered about it. They drank and danced next to each other, just like good old days. There was nothing like adhering to Covid-19 protocols.
Many entertainment joints across the country have suffered huge losses, and if statistics given by the Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (Perak) last month are anything to go by, then many will struggle to make a comeback while others may never reopen.
According to the report, an estimated 25 per cent of clubs and restaurants across the country were expected to shut down by the end of last month, with about 10 per cent of those in Nairobi expected never to come back.
Since March, about 1.2 million employees who work in the 25,000 clubs and restaurants in Kenya could have been rendered jobless, with the hospitality industry choking under the weight of the new sanctions.
Alcohol manufacturers and distributors last month warned that the continued closure of bars will cost workers, sorghum farmers and government Sh9.1 billion and 57,000 jobs unless the businesses are reopened.
The Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (Abak), which brings together key players such as Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), said the measure has hurt consumption and triggered reduced demand for products such as barley and wheat used to produce the beverages.
Consumption of alcohol was also impacted negatively by restrictions on social gatherings.
Bars and restaurants employ waiters, bartenders, musicians, comedians and deejays, all of whom were affected.