Covid-19: Uhuru extends curfew by 60 days, reopens bars

September 2020 DailyNation; President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday made several key changes to Kenya’s measures against the Covid-19 pandemic, noting the basic need for personal responsibility if the country is to win a fight that has lasted about six months now.

The President extended the nationwide curfew by 60 days but changed the timings to 11pm-4am effective Tuesday .

He also lifted the ban on the sale of alcohol by bars and restaurants, much to the delight of members of the public who had long expressed their wishes especially on social media. The order takes effect Tuesday, he said, but noted that the establishments must be closed by 10pm.

The President further raised the maximum number of guests at funerals and weddings from 100 to 200 and said churches can host up to a third of their capacities.

The Ministry of Health earlier relaxed burial protocols for people who died of Covid-19 in line with revised World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Public health officials handling the bodies will no longer be required to wear full white hazmat suits.

Schools reopening

Regarding the schools reopening date, President Kenyatta did not announce a date but noted the need to ensure proper safety precautions are taken.

As such, he said Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha will announce the calendar once an agreement on safety measures is reached following discussions by all stakeholders.

“Learning institutions should only be reopened when we have and can sufficiently guarantee the safety of all our children. Let us not focus on when schools will reopen but on how they will reopen,” he said.

It is now unclear when students will return to school even as some neighbouring countries continue to resume learning, based on their caseloads. Among them are Tanzania, Zambia and South Sudan.

As of Monday, Kenya had recorded 38,168 declared cases, including 24,691 recoveries and 700 deaths, according to a statement by Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe said in a statement.

The conference

President Kenyatta made the announcements following National Covid-19 Conference that took place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.

He and other government officials met for discussions on the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya amid hope for the official declaration of a flattening curve in Kenya.

Among those present were Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, Chief Justice David Maraga, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Cabinet members, who highlighted the effects of the virus in their sectors.

The national meeting, which followed a virtual conference on Kenya’s status, came after six months of economic paralysis caused by restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The conference assessed Kenya’s achievements in its six-month fight against the pandemic, having reported its first case on March 13, and measures to be taken going forward.

The leaders discussed matters including areas of efficiency, whether there was value for money and how to increase it going forward as well as lessons on use of human and financial resources.

Panel discussions also touched on the extent to which agencies steering the war against the virus achieved their goals and whether there is a proper correlation between results achieved and resources used so far.

Also discussed was the matter of responses to peculiar challenges in handling the pandemic and whether the country’s abilities to handle emergency situations have been built even as measures are de-escalated

There was also the matter of whether the measures Kenya took months ago still apply today, if they will be relevant in the future, which ones should be replicated and which ones adjusted.

The leaders also talked about the appropriateness of Kenya’s interventions, based on existing formula, whether they were in line with the public’s wishes.

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