Bars, night clubs and concerts officially open today after they were closed two years ago in an effort to combat the spread of Covid-19.
In a recorded interview with state-owned Urban TV journalists, President Museveni reopened the economy with the exception of boda boda business, whose operations are subject to review by government’s Covid-19 pandemic committee.
“All [sectors] can reopen as per my earlier directive,” the President responded when asked by journalists whether bars and nightclubs were free to operate. In March 2020, Mr Museveni ordered the closure of all bars, theatres, clubs and other hospitality venues.In his address on New Year’s Eve, he announced a conditional reopening for bars, nightclubs and other nightspots as well as a removal of the curfew. Mr Museveni said the nightlife would only reopen two weeks after schools reopened on January 10. While the nightlife resumes, many popular hang-outs might not reopen.
Mr Patrick Musinguzi, a bar owner and the spokesperson of Uganda Bar Owners’ Association, told Daily Monitor last week that many bars will delay the reopening, while others have run out of business.
“Most bars are closing business, especially the big ones in Kampala because they are struggling with huge rent arrears. Eighty per cent of high end bars in Kampala won’t reopen,” Mr Musinguzi said.
He said their association had asked government to bail them out but nothing happened. A bar owner in Kabalagala, Kampala, who sought anonymity, said he accumulated a lot of debt in rent arrears, forcing him to close business.
Some places have been sold off, others have changed business and others lie in ruins. For instance on Ggaba-Kansanga road, some bars such as Timeless and Comrades have changed management. The bar names have been changed to Sambelino and Mashariki, respectively.
Mr Jeff Mugisha, alias Manager Jeff, the proprietor of El’clasico bar and club in Bunga, said he almost closed business aft er accumulating debts in rent and maintaining his workers.
“I tried turning it [the bar] into a restaurant but that couldn’t help to fi x the huge rent bill and sustaining the employees,” Mr Mugisha said.
Mr Mugisha, who is ready for the reopening, said he chose to sub-let part of his bar to cut the rent fees. Other bars such as Vox Lounge, Comrades, Beruga and Milano night Club are set to reopen. Many hospitality venues are struggling to operate.
Bars gone with the pandemic
Located in Kabalagala, Kampala, the bar was a hangout for celebrities and musicians. Today, the place has been turned into a boutique.
The popular Congolese bar’s premises are being refurbished reportedly for other business. A source, who used to work at Quatre Mantonge, said owners opted to rent out the premise for shops and other businesses.
In Munyonyo-Makindye Division, Club Ocean 11’s premises where demolished to pave way for a fuel station.
Formally known for pork and bar services, Okapi Gardens in Bunga lies in ruins. The place was sold off for re-development. It is sealed off for ongoing as construction works.
Kansanga-based club premises were reportedly was burnt during the lockdown. The place is still cordoned off.
The Luzira-based bar was replaced by merchandise and spare shops. DV8 was known for nurturing talent given its live band sessions.