Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday announced an end to cessation of movement in the capital Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties but clarified that night curfew would remain in place for the next 30 days.
Kenyatta said in a televised address to the nation that domestic and international flights will resume on July 15 and August 1 respectively, as the country gears up for full economic activities after three months of shutdown linked to COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kenyan leader stressed that a phased reopening of the country could be suspended if a spike in the number of COVID-19 positive cases is witnessed.
"In the next 21 days, we shall 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 lock-down at zero-option," said Kenyatta.
He urged the urban population to delay non-essential travel up-country, adding that public transport operators plying the three counties that were under a lockdown are required to undergo certification from the government before they resume operations.
Kenyatta said that houses of worship were free to conduct in-person services from July 15, subject to adherence to public health guidelines like social distancing and hand hygiene.
He said that reopening was based on consensus among experts that Kenya had strengthened preparedness to handle COVID-19 pandemic even as the country witnessed a surge in new infections.
Kenya on Monday recorded 181 new COVID-19 positive cases, raising the national tally to 8,067 while the number of fatalities rose to 164 after four patients succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours.
"By reopening Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera, we are more at risk than we were when the restrictions were in place," said Kenyatta, urging people to exercise cautious optimism, and avoid reckless abandoning.
He said that resumption of domestic flights will be pegged on strict adherence to ministry of health guidelines on preventing spread of COVID-19.
According to Kenyatta, international flights into and out of the Kenyan territory will also be subject to strict conformity to local and international protocols on containing the pandemic. ■