By Trudy Natabona

Alcohol beverage manufacturers have asked

county governments to be considerate as they

implement measures to limit the spread of the

coronavirus (COVID-19) in Kenya and avoid

actions that would result in a bigger economic

impact than anticipated.

In a letter to Council of Governors chairman

Wycliffe Oparanya, the Alcohol Beverages

Association of Kenya (ABAK) asked the

devolved governments to uphold fair

administrative action when implementing


ABAK chairman Gordon Mutugi said that while

the industry supports the limits on public

gatherings to limit the spread of the virus, the

decision by 16 county governments to ban the

operations of bars and entertainment spots

was unwarranted.

About 9,615 outlets have been affected by the

actions taken by county governments in the 16


“Events related to the pandemic are unfolding

at an unprecedented speed, with heavy

economic losses experienced across various

sectors of the economy.

The alcoholic beverage sector currently

supports more than two million livelihoods, who

directly depend on the alcoholic beverage value

chain for their daily upkeep.

Closure of bars disrupts value chains,

deepening the negative impact of the pandemic

to the economy,” said Mr Mutugi.

ABAK asked the devolved governments to

consider the fact that the businesses are still

obligated to meet their obligations in terms of

licensing, loan repayments, salaries, rent and

leases, and the responsibilities of taking care of

their families.

“Bars employ over 250,000 people who in most

the cases earn a daily wage.

Closing them will render over these people

jobless, jeorpadise their support for over 2

million livelihoods and directly lead to social


Ultimately this could potentially result to social

anarchy including looting, muggings, violent

robberies, as has already been witnessed in

other parts of the world,” Mr Mutugi warned.

Most bars are in the category of Small and

Medium Enterprises and are mostly owned and

operated by women, and employ thousands of


Closing them indiscriminately would also push

drinkers in the direction of illicit alcohol, which

would compound the problem.

ABAK asked the Council of Governors to:

encourage good hygiene and social distancing

at all public spaces, allow alcohol sales for

responsible consumption at home and

safeguard communities from the menace of

illicit alcohol and avoid outlawing legitimate

business communities who are part of the

economy that is suffering from the effects of

the pandemic.

The association also asked the county

governments to implement the advisory

published by Makueni, Machakos and Vihiga

counties, where licensed outlets have been

allowed to strictly operate between 5pm and


Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has

also asked bars to operate within the set hours

and as per the guidelines to limit the spread of

the coronavirus.

It also asked the county enforcement teams to

implement the governments’ directives and to

safeguard licensed bar owners and distributors

against punitive action by law enforcement

agencies that may engender their lives and risk

the investments if poorly managed.

ABAK and its members are running a robust

campaign to: –

Promote hygiene through the donation of over

100,000 litres of hand sanitisers to 40,000 bars,

7,000 direct employees, and 2.4 million

vulnerable urban population living in slums.

Drive public awareness by printing 100,000

pieces of A3 posters to sensitise the over

40,000 bars on the Coronavirus pandemic and

the measures they should take to minimise the

spread of the virus and publicising the same

through social media pages

Discourage overcrowding at the bars by offering

bar owners the option of stocking portable

alcoholic drink formats.

Encouraging consumers to buy alcoholic

products to consume at home responsibly and

practise social distancing.

County governments that have banned

operations of bars and entertainment

establishments (as at 19th March 2020)


16th Mar.


Bars and nightclubs to be closed at 10pm

17th Mar


Closure of all Bars

17th Mar.


Closure of all Bars and Nightclubs immediately

17th Mar.


Close all bar outlets until the government

provides further directive

17th Mar.


Close all bar outlets until the government

provides further directive

17th Mar.


All night clubs and bars to be closed until

further notice

18th Mar.


Immediate suspension of all social gathering,

including and not limited to sporting leisure,

wedding, night clubs, bars, workshops and

seminar places of worship

18th Mar.


All night clubs, discos, and other recreational

facilities including Nteere park and all stadium

shall be closed to the public for 30 days

18th Mar.

North Rift Economic Bloc (Turkana, West Pokot,

Baringo, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu,

Trans-Nzoia, Samburu )

Night clubs and bars within the

NOREB region MUST remain closed for Thirty

(30) days effective 13th

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