State seems ready to end four months of lockdown

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
From left: Cabinet secretaries for Health Mutahi Kagwe (Health), Fred Matiang’i (Interior) and Najib Balala (Tourism) display a report during the official launch of Magical Kenya Tourism Health and Safety protocols at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) yesterday. Photo/PD/ALICE MBURU

After four months of lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, indications are that the government will open the economy next week, albeit in bits.

Three Cabinet Secretaries – Najib Balala (Tourism and Wildlife), Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and Fred Matiang’i (Interior) yesterday said the government had played its role in sensitising people on precautionary measures, preparing them to live alongside the novel coronavirus.

Speaking at the launch of Magical Kenya tourism health and safety protocols CS Balala said the country had received a stamp of approval from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the World Tourism and Travel Council, giving assurance to the international travellers that the Kenya is safe.

“In the next couple of days when His Excellency (President Uhuru Kenyatta) opens up the country, we will be able to implement these protocols,” Balala said.

He said opening up the tourism sector is enough of a trigger that the government is prepared to handle life post Covid-19 given the sector’s interconnection with other sectors of the economy.

Through its direct linkages with the transport, hotel and aviation sectors it contributes 10 per cent to the national wealth, employing over 1.6 million people.

However, according to Balala, through backward linkages in various sectors, it cumulative employs 2.5 million people.

Other sectors

“The impact of linkages between tourism and the other sectors is over 20 per cent of the GDP. Mama Mbogas who sell to hotels and restaurants are now suffering as they do not have the market,” he said.

Last week, Uhuru hinted at the resumption of KQs domestic flights, presumably after the lock-downs are lifted on June 6 to gauge the country’s preparedness before resumption of international flights.

“We are going to be starting domestic flights and this is what we are going to use over let’s say the next couple of days because we are opening up the lockdown that we’ve had between inter-county lockdowns.

And ultimately I think that’s what’s going to set the pace for getting a day for us to open up now once again to international flights,” said the President.

Kagwe told Kenyans to be prepared for a post Covid-19 life, as it is not known when the virus will end, a factor Matiang’i agreed with, promising that the law enforcement urgency will be on hand to provide security as the economy begins to open up.

“We have to learn how to live with Covid-19. That is the short of it. The global citizen has to learn to live with Covid-19,” he said, adding that as a government had done its part telling people how to live with Covid-19. 

As if to prepare people for the eventuality, that is lifting the lock-down, Kagwe said: “We now know it is possible to conduct your business as long as we adhere to the protocols,” in reference to the physical press conference held yesterday.

He said it was no longer the business of the government to save lives. “This business belongs to each of us. You save my life, I save yours,” he said.

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