LOCAL Government Minister Charles Banda says consultations on modalities for reopening of bars are almost complete.

In an interview, Banda said an announcement would soon be made.

“It [the re-opening of bars] has always been on the cards, the President said it. There is a lot of progress. It’s not me who can give you a time line because the one who announces is the President. We have been tasked to do the recommendations and on our part, as Ministry of Local Government, we have done the consultation, we are through. I am sure the Ministry of Health have got their position also as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs. So, when everybody else has submitted, an announcement will be made,” Banda said.

He, however, insisted that restaurants found operating as bars would sternly be dealt with.

“We have made it very clear that whoever is going to abuse the authority to start operating as a bar away from a restaurant it’s an offence and they will face sanctions, we have said that. So, if there are any that are operating like that, I would encourage you to inform the Town Clerk and they are going to send people to go and check and verify whoever will be found wanting will be sanctioned. So, it’s very clear right from start, restaurants have been allowed to open and they should observe the measures. Those that have got licenses to sell alcohol during the time of meals they are allowed to sell that alcohol during the time they are serving the meals, but not to turn their facilities into bars. Whoever does that, it’s an offense and they will be sanctioned,” cautioned Banda.

President Edgar Lungu closed bars two months ago after Zambia recorded its first few cases of COVID-19.