Corona easing sees revellers, shoppers traffic soar by 8pc
Lewis Njoka @LewisNjoka
Retail and recreational spaces witnessed a surge in the number of visitors following a recent government directive allowing restaurants and eateries to reopen.
This follows further easing of rules by Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe to allow restaurants reopen after several weeks of closure due to the pandemic.
A mobility report released on Monday by Google shows that the number of people visiting markets and retail shops increased last week compared to the previous week when numbers had declined.
The report tracks changes in people’s movement over time in terms of geography and considers categories of places such as retail, pharmacies, residential and workplaces.
“Eight per cent more Kenyans, as opposed to a five per cent reduction of movement witnessed in the previous week, have visited retail and recreation spaces in the last one week.
These spaces include restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, museums, libraries and movie theatres.
This could be as a result of the government’s recent directive on reopening of restaurants,” says the report.
Nairobi reported the highest increase recording a nine per cent rise against a six per cent reduction reported the previous week.
Mombasa witnessed a six per cent surge in the number of people visiting retail and recreational spaces against a nine per cent reduction the previous week while Kisumu reported a three per cent increase.
The move by shoppers and revellers comes at a time the number of Covid-19 cases reported in the country has soared to 715 as of Tuesday, with Nairobi and Mombasa hosting the bulk of cases.
Reginald Kadzutu, an analyst with Zamara Group, says the increase could also be attributed to the fact that the study covered an end-month week, hence, people were visiting retail stores to stock up.
“It is a good thing for the retailers and the economy. But you also need to factor in that it is towards end month, so people have been paid salaries and are restocking. However, you notice that more people are now getting back to work,” said Kadzutu.
At the same time, movement by public transport in the country, such as buses and trains, increased by nine per cent up from a three per cent reduction reported the previous week.
Public transport activities rose by nine per cent while both Mombasa and Kisumu witnessed a five per cent increase.
On Monday, the government said it was considering opening its airspace to international flights, after weeks of closure, to give the economy more traction amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Google report, movement in both residential areas and places of work reduced by one per cent last week, a sharp contrast to the previous week where movement in residential areas dropped by five per cent while movement in workplaces increased by 16 per cent.
While it’s good for the economy already reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the increased movement raises fears that the number of people infected with the virus could rise due to increased interaction as more people shop and congregate in recreational spaces.