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Low Turnup of Revellers in Bars As Night Life Resumes

While there was an anticipation of celebrations following the lifting of restrictions on the entertainment industry and the curfew, it was different in some towns across the country.
Empty Chairs and Tables at BJs Bar and Grill as Only Few Revelers Showed Up -Photo by Jesse Johnson James

Audio 11

Several bars and hangouts in different parts of the country failed to attract revelers on Monday despite the return to night social life.

On December 31, President Museveni announced that restrictions on the entertainment industry, curfew, bars, nightclubs, and other social gatherings will be lifted two weeks after schools have reopened. The schools reopened on January 10, close to two years of closure following the outbreak of COVID -19.

While there was an anticipation of celebrations following the lifting of restrictions on the entertainment industry and the curfew, it was different in some towns across the country.

In Gulu City, the streets were empty and quiet. Dozens of bars and hangouts remained empty, unlike during the lockdown that they would attract many revelers.

Popular hangouts like Password, The Bus Terminal, Wine Garage, Plan B, and Cue Bar, among others, had less than 50 revelers each, while Da Covenant Bar and Restaurant used to attract close to 100 revelers during the lockdown was closed on Monday night.

Other hangouts like BJs Bar and Grill and Buganda Pub at least managed to attract hundreds of revelers. For Buganda Pub, revelers were charged an entry fee of 3,000 shillings while BJs Bar and Grill was free.

Other smaller bars played loud music to keep their few customers around but closed at around 11 pm when the revelers left.

Security personnel were deployed within the central business district but were majorly targeting Boda –Boda riders caught riding beyond the stipulated 7 pm. The Boda –Boda riders however kept dodging the security personnel as they carried their passengers to and from different places within the city.

Street vendors dealing in fast food were equally disappointed since only a handful of customers went to buy food. The vendors selling roasted pork, fried chicken, fresh fish, and Irish potatoes chips occupied Andrea Olal Road and Cemetery Road somehow seemed busy.

Daniel Ochola Obol, the Manager of BJs Bar and Grill in Pece –Laroo Division in Gulu City says that they anticipated the low turn up of revelers since it is Monday. He says they might have a high turn-up of revelers on Friday and the weekend.

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James Akena, the owner of Plan B Bar and Washing Bay in Labourline Ward in Pece –Laroo Division says business was not any different from the previous days and that his bar registered very poor sales even when he thought he would have more customers.

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In Soroti City, bars were opened as early as 9:00 am in anticipation of many customers in the evening.  However, by 9:00 pm, most of the bars visited by our reporter had closed while others had a sizable number of revellers.

Patrick Onega, the Proprietor of Liberty Bar says that much as they are excited for the reopening of bars, they have not realized a good number of people as anticipated. Onega says he had stocked more than 50 crates of beer but had sold less than 10 by 10:00 pm.

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Vicky Acen, a bar attendant at Savannah Inn says that whereas she expected a big turn up in bars, she is not surprised with the low sales since Covid-19 prolonged lockdown has forced some people to stop drinking.

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As bars reopened, Boda Boda cyclists also remained on the streets without any interference from the police. Simon Obukui, a cyclist at Mandela stage wants the President to lift the curfew for cyclists.

Ateso

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In Jinja City, Juma Okiror, the Manager of Galaxy Auto Spa says that most of their clients preferred to purchase alcohol and drink from their homes.

Okiror adds that they have however created theme nights, which they think will boost the turn-up of revelers.

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At most of the bars visited in Jinja by URN reporters, there was no adherence to the Covid-19 guidelines. There were no water points for handwashing, no visible washing facilities, temperature guns, and sanitizers at the entrance.

In Mukono Central Division, some of the popular hangouts that include Summer Gardens, Wantoni, Labamba, Club One, Hive, and Festino City opened but there were few customers. Several hangouts in Wantoni, Nasuuti, and Ngandu were also closed.

Fred Karungi, the General Manager Festino City says it is going to take them time to stabilize. He notes that several workers are already pleading to return to work.

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However, in Kabale and Entebbe municipalities, there were jubilations with revellers flocking different hangouts.

In Kabale Municipality, hangouts that were found re-opened include Bamboocha Club, ONZ bar and Lounge, B-Live Club, and Chello lounge.

At ONZ bar and lounge, there was a handwashing facility at the main entrance with security personnel checking whoever enters. Onesmus Tumusiime, the Director says that to ensure that their customers are healthy and secure.

According to Tumusiime, by Monday evening his bar had registered an unspecified number of customers.

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Rukiga

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At Bambooca Club, Dickson Ampeire, the Director says that they will be chasing away all their customers who do not want to adhere to the covid-19 SOPs.

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Onecious Ainamani, Aron Sabitti, and Andre Mujuni some of the revelers were at Bambocha club expressed joy at the reopening of bars.

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Deus Aharimpisa, a Boda Boda rider says that the President should consider lifting the curfew on Boda Bodas. 

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In Entebbe, Paddy O'Ganda's Irish Bar in Entebbe town, Carol's Bar in Kitooro, Riders Lounge at Imperial Mall, Fire and Ice club, and Capital Pub in Katabi-Busambaga were full to capacity on Monday evening.

Capital Pub had over 300 revelers in its ordinary section and close to 50 revelers in the VIP section from 7 pm till past 2 am.

Revelers including Winfred Nakato, a resident of Katabi-Busambaga and Erina Nakaayi from Abaita Ababiri said they are excited about the resumption of night life. Nakato and Nakaayi said that they moved from bar to bar until dawn to celebrate end of curfew.

Voxpop

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A worker in one of the bars says he received tips of up to 25,000 Shillings in the first six hours of re-opening. He is hopeful that he will receive more tips because it is what he and most of his colleagues used to rely on to cover their rent, utility bills, and basic needs while saving their monthly salaries of shillings 200,000.

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Patrah Namuwonge, one of the three directors of Paddy O'Ganda's Irish Bar says there was a fairly good turn up of revelers on Monday.

Namuwonge says the bar has deployed security guards to ensure that the revelers adhere to the covid-19 guidelines before they gain entrance.

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Security personnel were hardly seen patrolling the streets of Entebbe or near the hangouts on Monday night and early Tuesday morning.