Beginning tomorrow, Friday, Rwanda is set to temporarily ease night closing times which required bars and hangouts to shut doors at 1am in weekdays and 2am on weekends, to allow citizens and residents to enjoy the festive season.
An announcement issued by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said the new temporary guidelines were put in place to allow Rwandans to celebrate without any restrictions.
“The end of year festive season has begun, and the Government of Rwanda wants people to celebrate and enjoy. That is why, the Rwanda Development Board has set temporary operating hours for the season as follows effective 15 December 2023 to 7 January 2024,” the announcement reads.
In regard to operating hours, hospitality establishments including hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs will operate until 2:00 am (2 hours after midnight) on Mondays through Thursdays and they are also free to operate throughout the night on Fridays, Weekends and on Public Holidays.
“All establishments must abide by noise pollution regulations and be respectful of those who require rest. All the above are also applicable to private events,” said the announcement signed by Francis Gatare, RDB CEO, adding that everyone is expected to regulate themselves but RDB, in coordination with other relevant Government institutions, will ensure proper implementation of these guidelines.
“Entities found in violation of these directives will be held accountable,” it adds, among other things, warning entities against serving alcohol to persons under 18 years of age as well as visibly intoxicated persons.
In an interview with KT Press, the Mayor of City of Kigali, Pudence Rubingisa, said that the decision is aimed at allowing city dwellers and Rwandans in general to celebrate without any restrictions.
“Yes, we had a discussion with Rwanda Development Board, which is charged with regulating the hospitality sector and nightlife, to allow places to operate beyond the set closing times, to allow Rwandans and those who will spend their festive days in Rwanda, to fully celebrate the festive season without any restrictions,”
“However, we will continue with our ‘Tunywe Less” campaign, especially encouraging young people, to not overindulge in alcohol consumption. We encourage people to drink and responsibly, much as we are entering the festive season,” Rubingisa told KT Press.
He pointed out that temporarily easing closing times should not be a reason for people to engage in overconsumption of alcohol or spend extravagantly.
“We encourage people to spend responsibly because life does not stop with the festive season. Soon we will begin a new year, children will be going back to school and there is a lot more to do next year. We want people to enjoy but do so responsibly and also make sure they don’t squander all the resources in festivities,” Mayor Rubingisa said.
He pointed out that City authorities will work with law enforcement organs to ensure that the festive season goes well, especially in regard to security, for people to celebrate amidst peace and security.
“Our message is to encourage people to celebrate with their families, relatives and friends, but do so responsibly and also be vigilant. We want people to be happy but also get out of the festive season alive and healthy,” Rubingisa said, calling on parents and guardians to ensure that children don’t indulge in alcohol consumption during this period.
A cabinet meeting chaired by President Kagame on August 1 imposed set closing times at 1:00 a.m. on weekdays and 2:00 a.m. on weekends for all ‘non-essential services’, including nightclubs and concerts, in a bid to control noise pollution and regulate alcohol consumption in the country, beginning September.
The decision drew mixed reactions, with many insisting that it will lead to losses for businesses but senior officials maintained that it was important to curb noise pollution and also minimize alcohol consumption, especially among young people.