Carry sanitisers, PSVs advise as Uhuru lifts travel ban - Beaking Kenya News

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Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Carry sanitisers, PSVs advise as Uhuru lifts travel ban

Matatu sanitised before Nairobi travel locked down. Now passengers told to carry their own sanitiser.

Matatu firms on Monday welcomed the lifting of the travel lockdown on three counties but told passengers to carry their own sanitiser.

A travelling public that has not left Nairobi and Mombasa since March 26 was dismayed when some bus firms announced they would not start trips on Monday. PSV firms cited the number of approvals required from the ministries of Health and Transport.

PSV owners who had to leave their vehicles parked in garages and petrol stations for more than three months urged passengers to guarantee their own safety by carrying sanitiser. They already wear masks.

Religious leaders urged Kenyans to take care of themselves and their loved ones, especially the elderly, by making sure they don’t spread the coronavirus as they travel.

Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai welcomed the directive lifting travel restrictions in Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera.

“We will do our best to play by the rules but some of the recommendations might be a burden to the industry since revenue is down by 60 per cent,” Kimutai said.

He asked passengers to try to carry their own sanitiser and wear proper masks. “Everybody must play their role in combating the disease. We are otherwise ready to provide transport,” he said.

In a nationwide address on Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa and Mandera counties to end at 4am on Tuesday, July 7.

“By re-opening … we are more at risk than when the restrictions were in place. We must, therefore, exercise cautious optimism and avoid reckless abandon. Though the path to recovery is rocky and uneven, it is navigable,” the President said.

He cited two conditions to the phased reopening.

PSVs will only be allowed into and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera after meeting Health protocols.

“To operate, Public Service Vehicles operators will require mandatory certification from the Ministry of Health, in consultation with Ministry of Transport,” he said.

Managing director of Easy Coach Azym Dossa said it will take two to three days before they resume travel upcountry.

“We will first ensure buses are in excellent condition and comply with the new directives,” he said.

The President said those who rush home should remember they will contact with the elderly in villages and thus should exercise extreme care.

“You will be personally responsible if you take the disease to your parents in the villages. You can now go to Kakamega, Nyeri, anywhere, but just know you will be to blame in case of anything,” Uhuru said.

The President added, “I encourage all Kenyans to consider delaying non-essential upcountry travel and to exercise extreme caution and fidelity to the correct use of face masks, hand washing and sanitisation, physical and social distancing, and concern for the health of the elderly and immune-depressed persons.”

As he slowly reopened the country, the President said Kenyans will bear personal responsibility for the spread of the disease, which has been steadily rising.

The official toll stood at 8,067 as of Monday.

“The disease is there and cases have been going up. We want people to go to church and mosques but the responsibility will be yours. We cannot have police or health officers in all churches. Religious leaders must take responsibility and ensure people worship safely,” the President said.

Bishop Hudson Ndeda of Bethel Christian Pentecostal Church thanked the President and said closure of places of worship, only for three months, had led to moral decay.

“We will adhere to the regulations and cooperate with all the authorities,” Ndeda said. He was among a team from the Evangelicals Alliance of Kenya that proposed reopening guidelines.

The bishop urged Kenyans to be cautious and take care of themselves and loved ones, especially the elderly,

Uhuru extended the prohibition against social and political gatherings for a further 30 days and restricted bars to take-away services.

Bars, Hotels and Liquor Traders Association of Kenya chairman Simon Njoroge said operators have lost as much as Sh15 billion during the more than three months of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“All other businesses have been opened with certain conditions. We are also ready to abide by the rules to be allowed to operate,” he pleaded.

Njoroge called on alcohol distributors and manufacturers to join them in urging the government to allow them to operate.

Anti-virus restrictions have included a ban on social gatherings, cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties and a 9pm-to-5am curfew. Others were closure of schools and places of worship and bans on domestic and international air travel.

The President said Kenyans will know on Tuesday when schools will reopen and the protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

He said that in 21 days the government will study patterns of interactions and the spread of the disease.

“Any trends that signal a worsening of the pandemic and we will have no choice but to return to the lockdown at zero-option,” he said.

The President further announced that places of worship will begin phased reopening in strict conformity with all guidelines and protocols by the National Security Council and the National Emergency Response Committee.

In line with guidelines issued by the Inter-Faith Council, only a maximum of 100 people will be allowed at each worship ceremony and for not more than one hour.

Sunday schools and madrassas shall remain suspended until further notice.

Group worship will not include people younger than 13 years or older than 58 years; people with underlying health conditions are prohibited.

President Kenyatta further announced that local air travel will resume on Wednesday, July 15, in conformity with protocols from Health and Civil Aviation authorities.

He said international air travel into and out of the country will resume on August 1, also in conformity with all health guidelines.

The President asked Kenyans to rethink how they do their businesses to spur growth.

“When we re-open, we cannot use the old maps to navigate the new lands created by the moment. We must have the courage to let go of the old models in order to find the new opportunities presented by this crisis,” he said.

The President directed the National Crime Research Centre to probe escalating cases of gender-based violence; rising cases of teenage pregnancies and violation of children’s rights.

“The centre is directed to prepare an advisory to our security agencies on remedial action within 30 days and initiate immediate prosecution of all violators,” he said.

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