NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 28- President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday allowed bars to resume operations as part of measures to re-open the economy that slowed since March when the first COVID-19 case detected in the country.
They have remained closed since then, just as schools and all institutions of higher learning.
But on Monday, President Kenyatta said public health officials had assessed the situation and advised a phased re-opening of the bars which will be allowed to operate until 10 from Tuesday.
“You can now go and drink alcohol,” President Kenyatta said at the end of a COVID-19 National Conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.
He however, warned that Kenyans must continue to observe social distancing measures so as to keep away from the virus that had killed 700 people and infected 38,000 others by September 28.
Restaurants and bar owners can breathe a sigh of relief, after President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted a ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks, speaking life to some of the facilities that have remained closed for 6 months on Monday.
The President however said the facilities will be closing at 10 pm, one hour before the dusk to dawn curfew begins, which end at 4 am. The curfew was extended for another 60 days.
The sector employs thousands of Kenyans across the country who are now expected to resume work starting Tuesday- though under strict adherence of COVID-19 protocols that include social distancing.
“As an affirmation that the enemy is within our borders, we continue to record new infections every day. In that regard, we must continue adhering to the protocols issued by the Ministry of Health,” the President said.
And he extended the night curfew to start from 11pm so as to allow bars and other businesses sufficient operations time.
The president said the decision to ease the containment measures was a result of a remarkable improvement in the country’s infection rate of 4.4 per cent.
The World Health Organisation recommends that for a country to re-open, it should have a sustained infection rate of 5 percent for two weeks.
Kenya has been recording less than 200 cases on average since August, down from the initial high of over 1,000 daily.
The President further reviewed the number of guests attending funerals and weddings from 100 to 200.