By Our Reporter
Bar owners, through their association, the Bar Owners Association, have made a plea to government to reopen their businesses.
The plea was made by Tesfalem Gherathu, the association’s chairperson and also proprietor Casablanca bar while speaking to media at Kati Kati restaurant on Friday where he revealed that continued closure is doing more harm than good.
“Whereas the initial decision to close bars was necessary and timely to stem the spread and impact of the Coronavirus in Uganda, continued closure has resulted in severe economic consequences with many bar and club businesses going into distress.” Tesfalem Gherathu said.
He says the bar owners are ready to implement new measures to ensure safety of their patrons while also adhering to the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) by the Ministry of Health.
Among the suggested measures include operating at 50% of normal capacity to allow sufficient social distancing and crowd control, no playing loud music to avoid clients having to shout when talking and observing a 2-meter distance between tables.
According to Tesfalem Gherathu, the bar business sustains over 6.3 million people in a diverse value chain that consists of manufacturers, grain farmers, contracted distributors and retailers and generates approximately 2.8 trillion shillings annually in revenue.
“Bars significantly contribute to the economy through provision of employment, remittances to the national treasury through taxes and support to the retail and trade sector from which supplies are sourced.” Tesfalem added.
“The continued closure has led to massive job losses with many individuals previously employed in bars now out of jobs. The situation becomes even more dire for bar owners whose rent is overdue, continue to incur losses from expired stock and are under even more distress as they fail to meet their credit obligations. We therefore wish to make a plea to the government to allow us to re-open our businesses.” He concluded.
Bars have remained closed since March 2020 when a state-wide lockdown was instated through a Presidential Directive in a bid to combat spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.