NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21-The government through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has launched a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive for frontline personnel in the Tourism and Hospitality sector.
The launch which commences in Nairobi county was presided over by Tourism and Wildlife CS, Najib Balala in partnership with the Nairobi Metropolitan Services, Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC), Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO), Pubs and Restaurants Association (PERAK), among other stakeholders in the sector.
Speaking on the drive, CS Balala said that the exercise is a major step towards resumption of activities in the tourism sector which had been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, he also noted that frontline workers in the Tourism and Hospitality sector are among the most vulnerable to Covid-19 because they come into direct contact with clients.
“Tourism is one of the sectors of our economy that has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and today is, therefore, an important day for the sector as it marks a crucial step towards the resumption of activities in the sector. Remember hospitality facilities like restaurants, Hotels and Bars have been closed because of the risk posed by interaction. Therefore, this is an important step towards building confidence in the sector,” said CS Balala.
He added that the first phase of the program will see 5,000 workers in the hospitality sector in Nairobi County get vaccinated, further revealing that the industry will be allocated a further 50,000 doses of the jab that will go into the programme.
“We shall begin vaccinating five thousand personnel in the county of Nairobi and then move on to the rest of the counties and we have been assured by the Ministry of Health that we shall be allocated another 50,000 doses to ensure that we cover a good number of frontline workers in the sector. Nairobi county has the highest number of facilities and more businesses have been affected here hence the need to first vaccinate workers as we move to other counties in the coming months. We shall ensure that this drive reaches all the 47 counties in the country.,” CS Balala added.
The target personnel for the program will be those working in high contact establishments and services in the Tourism and Hospitality sector such as bars, restaurants, accommodation facilities, and tour drivers.
CS Balala further expressed optimism that the program is a step towards full resumption also noting that vaccination exercise will complement the protocols that have been put in place.
“With this program, and the continued adherence to the protocols by everyone, we can be assured that the sector will hopefully resume operations soon with minimum restrictions. This rollout of the vaccines should not be a reason to abandon the health protocols, prevention remains a critical component of the national response to the pandemic, ” he said.