The president’s decree sparked a frenzy on social media immediately after the announcement.
‘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 reopening of the drinking joints is part of the government’s gradual reopening of the economy after the Covid-19 disruption. And Nairobians did enjoy.
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.
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.