OPINION: How Restaurants and Bars can adapt to the New Normal

It must feel like a shot of dopamine every time you go out with friends and family.

After not having seen them for a while in the quarantine period, the excitement of having to spend time with them again is amazing! The online music sessions organized by innovative DJs, the virtual worship ceremonies, home-delivered brunch and takeaway margaritas were okay but did not surpass the moments spent with friends and family with great ambiance and togetherness.

The good high you get when you have a few glasses or if you do not take alcoholic drinks, the dance moves you’ve been practicing to perform with your people when the perfect song comes on.

As soon as the lockdown and social distancing regulations were enforced, it put a lot of strain in all the social places in the country; including places of worship, markets, public transportation, bars and restaurants just to mention a few of the affected areas.

However because of the hard economic times that were caused by Covid 19 restrictions most of us decided to disregard the COVID 19 guidelines and continued living our normal lives, we simply forgot to wear our masks, wash our hands and maintain social distance. This begs the question, can the social life in Kenya conform to social distancing rule?

“I just love the social scene in Nairobi. You get to meet very many different types of people from different backgrounds, wine and dine together. If you are lucky, you get a good friend. In that case, I feel that we should strive to do all the social activities while being safe. It might be the case that people have to wear masks, it might be that people have to have their temperature taken on entry, wash their hands and sanitize every so often,” says Aoko, a business lady in Nairobi.

The regulations put forward by the government is definitely not one for bargaining. Those are just some regulations needed to be enforced to keep us safe from the Coronavirus pandemic. There are ways I have seen and also think bars and restaurants should adapt in how they operate their businesses. This includes having QR codes to direct people to their online menu or having disposable menus. They are great ways that businesses have incorporated to ensure that people do not share the menus.

‘Who wears a mask when going out? How do I drink or eat with my mask on?’ are questions I have heard more than enough times when it comes to the wearing of masks in eateries. It is important to realize that any version of social fun will require each of us to do our part to keep everyone safe. At this point in our lives, the most important thing is to try and reduce the risk of contracting the virus while finding ways to continue with our day to day lives. That means continuing to keep your distance, wear a mask, have hand sanitizer with you, wash your hands frequently, cough or sneeze into your elbow and so on even in social places. We will all need to stay conscious of these regulations.

Bars and restaurants can also have some clever communication strategies to remind revelers of the regulations, just as the Kenya Wine Agencies Limited campaign happened to catch my eye recently. They came up with a campaign ‘Enjoyment Itambe lakini jipange’. In this campaign, they personify a bottle to serve as a reminder for both business owners and their clients to be mindful when in the social spaces. Mr. Chilax is cool and passionate about his craft but still strives to enjoy himself while sticking to the guidelines on social interactions. He is presented as a ‘bottle man’ washing his hand to emphasize the importance of washing hands regularly. Another instance is of the ‘bottle man’ being a bouncer enforcing the social distancing rule between two customers to remind people to socialize within a safe distance. This is how everyone who would wish to socialize in bars and restaurants should carry themselves in order to keep safe as well as keep the businesses running. Mr. Chilax is seen reminding another ‘bottle man’ to have is mask on as the premises does not allow anyone entry without a mask.

We are social beings, majority of people build meaningful connections at the bar be it reconnecting with friends and family, job hook up, business opportunities just to name a few.

The KWAL campaign promotes socializing but with strict guidelines that have to be adhered to in order to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus which should be the norm as we approach the festive season. I applaud alcoholic companies for the support they are offering to bar owners, it is important that we stay safe and enjoy responsibly.


Article by: Daisy Mutai, Social Observer

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