NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11-The government has now revised down coronavirus testing charges for hotel and restaurant staff to Sh1000.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the move to reduce the testing cost is aimed at boosting the sector that has been hard hit owing to the pandemic.
“The cost for testing for the businesses will be Sh1000 from the actual cost of testing of up to Sh1000 because we want to support the economy,” said Balala.
He added that the guidelines earlier issued by the Ministry of Health for the hotels to reopen remain unchanged with the stakeholders expected to come with internal measures to guide their specific operations in relation to curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
“All eateries seeking to reopen to access the protocols as published by the MOH which have not been revised and we have also agreed that every establishment will develop their standard operational procedures which will be compliant to the protocols,” Balala said.
The move comes at a time when the sector’s players have complained that the initial testing fee for workers ranging between Sh2000-4000 is costly.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe had last month told Parliament’s Committee on Delegated Legislation restaurant owners will now pay between Sh2,000 to Sh4,000 for each member of staff for mandatory COVID-19 tests before re-opening.
“We have now said that for this purpose government hospitals will not offer the services and charge Sh2,000 to Sh4,000 depending on which government facility one goes to,” the Health CS said.
Most hotels and restaurants were closed from mid-March, soon after the country recorded its first COVID-19 case.
However, the government on Tuesday, April 28, allowed restaurants to reopen but under strict terms which include mandatory checks of diners’ body temperatures and restricting access to those showing signs of fever.
The Ministry of Health guidelines banned buffets and self-service meals, further advising that tables within dining areas must be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart for customers to maintain social distancing.
The CS told the MPs that the decision to reopen restaurants was taken to mitigate against adverse economic effects.