Bars and restaurants in the Covid-19 infested counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado and Nakuru will have to content with a fresh round of business closures starting March 27.
The drastic measure, which will also see the curfew hours revised to between 8pm and 4am in the five counties were announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta in an effort to check the surging cases of Coronavirus in these regions.
Investors in the hospitality industry, who have been smarting from tough Covid-19 containment measures first imposed between March and September 2020, have been hit hard with the President ordering closure of bars while restaurants were left to undertake take away services only.
“Operations of bars is suspended in the counties of Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado, Kiambu and Nakuru. Similarly, the sale of alcohol in restaurants and eateries in the five Counties is prohibited, until further notice,” said Uhuru Kenyatta. Operations of bars and restaurants in the other 42 counties will continue as currently is.
According to health experts, the third wave of Covid-19 infection started at the beginning of March and it is expected to peak in the next 30 days with more than 2,500 to 3,000 cases reported daily before subsiding in mid-May.
In early March, bar owners in Kenya claimed that the pandemic has pushed about 16,000 outlets out of business, consequently seeing them send home close to 190,000 workers as a result of bars and restaurants working one shift instead of the usual two since the disease hit Kenya.
The President, who also ordered the suspension of ordinary sessions of Parliament and assemblies in the five Covid-19 infested counties, also ordered an end to in person worship in these counties.
Businesses and individuals who have been using curfew passes will to travel within the previous 10pm to 4am period will have to get fresh permits owing to what the President called, “the abuse of curfew passes and exemptions and its role in the steep increase in infections.”
At the moment, Kenya whose current positivity rate has surged to 22 per cent from 2.6 per cent in January, has suffered 2,092 deaths out of the 126,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases since March last year. “What this means is that, if you test 100 Kenyans for Covid today, 20 will be positive,” said the President in a day when he also ordered members of his Cabinet and senior staffs to get the Covid-19 shots.
In the fresh containment measures, all employers – public or private -were directed to allow employees to work from home, with the exception of workers in critical services that cannot be delivered remotely.
By September last year, about 1.7 million workers had lost their jobs, data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. A snap back on tough disease containment measures could therefore spell doom to hundreds of thousands of workers who could have just returned to gainful employment.
According to data from the ministry of health, 64,100 shots of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine have been administered with frontline health workers, the police and teachers getting the first priority. The country’s senior citizens aged 58 and above have also been looped into the priority base as the bulk of deaths – 60 per cent – have been reported from this vulnerable group.