Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday announced a “phased reopening” of the country, with the resumption of international flights from August 1 as well as the lifting of internal travel restrictions.
The move comes as pressure mounts to kickstart the country’s ailing economy after nearly four months of coronavirus restrictions that have devastated key industries such as tourism.
Kenyatta said in a televised address that “international air travel into and out of the territory of Kenya shall resume effective 1 August 2020.”
He also announced that a ban on movement in and out of the capital Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and northeastern Mandera, would be lifted from July 15. However, a curfew from 9pm to 4am will remain in place for another 30 days.
Kenya has recorded just over 8,000 cases of the virus and 164 deaths — the highest official figures in East Africa — and has seen a steep increase in numbers in recent weeks, with a fatality rate of 2.09 per cent. Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe on Sunday warned “our healthcare facilities risk being overwhelmed”, Reuters reports.
Fewer than 200,000 people have been tested in a population of 47 million people.
Kenyatta had said that before lifting restrictions, the country would need to have contained infections with numbers headed downwards; the health care system must be prepared to deal with a surge in infections, and the capacity for surveillance and contact tracing must be in place.