Exclusive: Government succumbs to pressure, set to reopen bars

The Government of Uganda looks to have succumbed to the rising pressure from all angles requesting for the reopening of bars.

The Minster of Health Jane Ruth Aceng on Tuesday explained why the Government had not yet eased down restriction on bars and discotheques in the country warning that they were still a focal point for the spread of Covid-19 infections.

While announcing the relaxation on the restrictions on mass gatherings, political rallies, cinema’s, casinos among others Aceng noted that in countries that have proceeded to a second lockdown phase, “bars and discotheques have been identified as a focal reason of spread.

In September this year President Yoweri Museveni while easing down a number of covid-19 restrictions maintained the closure of bars gyms, cinemas, and gaming areas.
“I know many Ugandans like getting drunk, but you can get drunk at home. It is not good but at least you can get drunk without COVID-19,” he said.

However, a source within the Ministry of Health whispered to us that bars have been included in the next phased reopening of sectors that have been affected by the pandemic.

The source adds that the bar owners outlined the Standard Operating Procedures and the ministry has reviewed this with a green light.

The bars are however expected to operate at 50% of normal capacity to allow sufficient social distancing and crowd control.

Tesfalam Gherahtu, the chairman of the Legit Bar Restaurant and Entertainment Association (Lebra) said that as part of the SOPs, outdoor seating will be encouraged and no usage of air conditioning. No loud music will be played to avoid clients to shout when talking. A two-meter distance will be observed between tables.

“Curfew hours shall be respected and all bars will close at 8:00 pm to allow sufficient time for clients to travel home before 9:00 pm,” Gherahtu said.

He added that they will have adequate security to evict non-complying clients.

“All surfaces including tables, chairs, and counters will be sanitized before clients sit and after they leave. Persons with temperatures above 37.0 degrees centigrade will be denied entry and handed over to the health ministry teams and authorities,” Gherahtu said.

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