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Event Managers Association of Kenya lobbies govt to lift ban on gatherings

Mrs. Zuhura Ogada Odhiambo speaking at an event.

The Event Managers Association of Kenya (EMAK) is asking the government to lift the ban on public gathering and allow businesses to reopen with a limit on the number of attendees.

In a statement dated 27 August, EMAK chairperson Zuhura Ogada-Odhiambo said the association would work closely with hotels and other hospitality venues to ensure they comply with the set guidelines. EMAK was founded in 2014 and is the largest events association in the country.

“Our industry is one of the hardest hit in this pandemic,” Ogada-Odhiambo said. “Even with the phased reopening of businesses by the government, our industry is still shut down with the restriction of public gatherings. Our appeal to the government is to allow events that will host more than 100 people, which will allow companies to hold product launches, small workshops, trainings and conferences, exhibitions enabling our members to run businesses and slowly revive the industry.”

Kenyans are currently allowed to work from 7am to 8pm, rendering thousands of night-time economy casual workers and professionals, such as musicians, unemployed. According to the Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurant Association of Kenya (PERAK), more than 20 000 outlets have closed down.

“The industry deals with the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled people who our members contract and employ; as well as use a lot of casual labourers who have been deeply affected. The revival of the industry will open up opportunities for this group,” Ogada-Odhiambo said.

She added: “We would like to thank the government for all the efforts they have made during this period to ensure the safe reopening of various sectors. We would also like to congratulate Cabinet Secretary [of Tourism] Najib Balala, as Kenya is the first country to be awarded the Safer Tourism Seal. This will be crucial in building travellers’ confidence in Kenya as a destination when international travel resumes and hospitality outlets reopen. We are confident this will translate into business opportunities for our members in terms of meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions, trade fairs, etc.”

On 26 August, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered that all bars and nightclubs remain closed for an additional 30 days. He also extended the nationwide 9pm curfew for the same period. Kenyatta said that although the number of COVID-19 cases was declining in tourist areas, more patients were being admitted to rural hospitals across the country.

However, funeral and wedding ceremonies of up to 100 people can be held. Individuals found breaking the rule risk a 20 000 Kenyan shilling ($200) fine or a six-month jail term, or both.


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