Lilongwe Bar Owners Association has written President Lazarus Chakwera to consider extending operating hours from 2pm to midnight, arguing that the current Covid-19 restricted opening and closing times are off business peak hours.
Presidential press secretary Brian Banda on Thursday acknowledged receipt of the letter and said the President will consult his task force on Covid-19 regarding their concerns.
“The Bar Owners Association has indicated in their letter that they expect the President’s response by February 12 2021. The President has taken note of their concerns. He will liase with the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 and address their concerns in due course”.
Spokesperson of the bar owners, Marvin M’bwana, said in a statement on Thursday that some Covid-19 control measures being implemented and enforced, have direct negative economic impact on small to medium scale businesses, especially bars and night clubs.
He said since the implementation of the operating hours, sales have dropped by almost 80 percent, thereby worsening the negative economic impact.
“Most bars will suffocate and close and Lilongwe city only is likely to have about 10 000 bar employees laid off.
“It should be noted that bars and nightclubs employ mostly the unemployable citizens with no academic qualifications,” he added.
According to the association, Lilongwe city alone, has more than 1 000 bars, night clubs inclusive, and each unit, on average, employs 16 people, including the owner, meaning that Lilongwe city alone employs over 16 000 people.
The grouping is also asking for an exception to open their businesses from 10am to wee hours of the following day from Friday to Sunday “because weekends are better days for business”.
The plea comes a week after Sex Workers Association also presented a petition, after peaceful demonstrations, to President Chakwera through the Lilongwe District Council.
Last month, the President announced stringent Covid-19 measures aimed at curbing the spike in cases which the nation is experiencing and the measures included limiting operating hours for bars from 2pm to 8pm.