NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27- The government has said restaurants will be allowed to re-open in the country, but under strict measures aimed at maintaining social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus that has so far killed 14 people.
Kenya had recorded 363 infections by April 27, with 114 recoveries even as public health officials began mass testing in targetted areas.
Thr capital Nairobi, Mandera and coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi had the highest number of infections even though other far flung counties upcountry had recorded some cases.
“As we play our role as the Ministry of Health, we are also trying to see what measures we can put to keep our economy going. Some of the things that we will expect is that restaurants will now operate between 5am and 4pm and not later than that,” Kagwe told a Parliamentary Committee on Health on Monday.
He however, warned that it is not yet time to re-open bars. Restaurants will be allowed to sell alcohol to customers, on condition it is sold with a meal or to customers waiting to be served a meal or during a meal.
Most hotels and restaurants were closed from mid-March, soon after the country recorded its first COVID-19 case.
Since then, several other businesses were also affected, many opting to close down until the situation normalises after President Uhuru Kenyatta declared a dusk to dawn curfew countrywide, and a cessation of movement in the five counties with the highest cases.
Kagwe told MPs that restaurant owners are required to ensure social distancing is observed in the eateries that will re-open.
“Those who will open their restaurants must ensure social distancing amongst their clients. Dining tables must be placed 1.5 meters apart and self-service will not be allowed,” Kagwe said, “customers will be served by the appointed stewards.”
The restaurants must also have contact-free thermometers to measure customers’ temperature before admission.
Most businesses, including banks and supermarkets, are already implementing this directive, with many turning away customers without masks.
A spotcheck by Capital FM news revealed that businesses in downtown Nairobi had also re-opened, with many cautiously optimistic of defeating COVID-19.