Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday announced phased reopening of the country as the government moved to relax Covid-19 restrictions.
The president said cessation of movement into and out of the capital Nairobi, and Mombasa and Mandera counties would lapse on Tuesday 4am, allowing people to travel into and out of these counties. He, however, extended the nationwide 9pm-4am curfew for 30 days.
“By reopening Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera, we are more at risk than we were when the restrictions were in place. We must, therefore, exercise cautious optimism, and avoid reckless abandon,” said Mr Kenyatta, who promised to have the orders reviewed should the virus spread widely.
“Should the situation deteriorate and pose a challenge to our health infrastructure, it shall be ‘clawed back’.”
In the next 21 days, the country will study patterns of interactions and the spread of the disease.
“Any trends that signal a worsening of the pandemic, we will have no choice but to return to the lockdown,” the president said.
He cautioned that the country had not met minimum requirements to reopen the economy.
“According to the experts and stakeholders, we have not met the irreducible minimum 100 per cent. However, consensus amongst them is that we have reached a reasonable level of preparedness across the country to allow us to reopen,” Mr Kenyatta added.
The president also allowed reopening of places of worship, restricting them to one-hour services and no more than 100 people at a time. Places of worship will be required to strictly adhere to safety protocols in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. Sunday Schools and Madrassas will, however, remain closed.
No congregants under 13 years or over 58 years should be allowed in places of worship, Mr Kenyatta added. Those with underlying health conditions have also been cautioned against congregating to worship.
He asked Kenyans to continue adhering to Covid-19 safety measures to prevent spread of the disease.
“It is your duty and good will to defend and protect yourself and family and environment…Minimise unnecessary movements, delay upcountry travel, adhere to protocols,” he added.
He also urged citizens to minimise unnecessary contact with the elderly, children and those vulnerable to the virus.
The president further said that the Ministry of Education shall jointly with all stakeholders notify the public on the resumption of the 2020 Academic Calendar for basic education and tertiary institutions, by Tuesday.
The president also announced changes in transportation protocols, saying that public service vehicles moving in and out of areas which were previously under cessation of movement will require mandatory certification from the Ministry of Health in consultation with the Ministry of Transport.
Local flights will resume on July 15, 2020 in strict conformity with guidelines and protocols issued by the Health ministry.
“International Air Travel into and out of the territory of the Republic of Kenya shall resume effective 1st August, 2020; in strict conformity with all protocols from the Ministry of Health, local and international civil aviation authorities, and any additional requirements applicable at the ports of departure, arrival or transit,” he added.
However, politicians keen to carry out campaigns for 2022 were not so lucky. Restrictions on political gatherings and any other gathering were extended by another 30 days.
Further, the President extended the restriction on the reopening of bars as well as wedding and funeral attendance.
Mr Kenyatta also directed the ministries of Health and Trade to establish protocols before the resumption of importation of second-hand clothes and shoes.