Drinkers face Sh20,000 penalty for breach of alcohol ban
Individuals found drinking alcohol in bars and restaurants risk a Sh20,000 fine, a jail term of six months or both after President Uhuru Kenyatta banned liquor sales in restaurants.
The penalties for breach of the presidential directive are contained in the Public Health (Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19) Rules 2020 that were introduced in March to enforce restrictions imposed curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Kenya had allowed restaurants to sell alcohol, opening a window for bars to reopen under the cover of selling food.
“In response to today’s meeting, the National Security Council hereby resolves and directs that there will be no sale of alcohol in eateries and bars effective midnight today for 30 days within the territory of Kenya,” President Kenyatta ordered in a televised address Monday.
The president said all bars to remain closed until further notice.
President Kenyatta, speaking moments after holding a meeting with county governors, also ordered for permanent withdrawal of licences of operators in breach of the alcohol ban.
The ban is a blow to bar owners who last week warned of losses amounting to Sh50 billion if fresh restrictions on sales were imposed.
It will also delay the turnaround of East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL), which had announced a Sh532 million ($5 million) recovery fund to help pubs and bars resume trade post-lockdown.
The regional brewer was hit by measures imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including closure of bars and nightclubs, prompting the firm to issue a profit warning for the year ending June.
EABL has said its profit after tax for the year ending June was likely to decline by 25 percent compared to the previous period, hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company reported Sh11.52 billion in profit after tax for the year ended June 2019.
The President also extended a night curfew for 30 days to curb the spread of Covid-19 and shortened restaurant operating times by an hour, but stopped short of locking down the country again despite a surge in cases.
The curfew, which starts at 9pm and ends at 4am, had been due to be reviewed on August 6 or 7.
Kenya had by Monday reported 17,975 infections and 285 deaths from the disease.
The Health ministry reported 960 cases on Sunday alone, the biggest daily jump since the first case was confirmed in March.
The outbreak has hit the economy, with the Treasury projecting growth will slow to 2.5 percent this year from 5.4 percent last year.
President Kenyatta said that among other measures, the Health ministry would be authorised to convert government amenities such as schools and sports facilities into quarantine and isolation centres if needed.
He asked the police to enforce the curfew rule regardless of who they found breaking it, without mentioning anyone by name.
Last week, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, quit his post as the chairman of the Senate committee overseeing the government’s response to the coronavirus after he was arrested for flouting an overnight curfew to enjoy drinks with others in a Nairobi bar. He was later charged and fined.