NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 29 – The anticipated reopening of institutions of learning will now remain on hold as the education ministry explores modalities of ensuring COVID-19 prevention protocols can be enforced in strict conformity with health ministry guidelines.
Speaking when he announced the scaling down of restrictions for social gatherings, worship congregations and a nationwide curfew on Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha to issue a reviewed 2020 academic calendar once stakeholders agree on how schools will reopen.
Already, teachers in both public and private institutions reported to schools on Monday, to identify loopholes and ways to seal them, ahead of the much-anticipated re-opening.
“The lives of our children and their health is not a matter of debate,” the President asserted.
He urged Kenyans not to focus “not on when the schools will re-open but how they will…in a manner that will guarantee the safety of learners.”
“Let us think first about their health,” he implored.
The President also lifted a ban on the sale of alcohol in bars and eateries.
He however said the facilities will be closed from 10 pm, an hour before the dusk-to-dawn curfew which will now run from 11pm to 4am, having been revised from an earlier timefrae of 9pm to 4am. The curfew will remain in force for an additional sixty days effective Tuesday, September 29.
Bars and liquor stores which were among sectors hardest hit by the restriction leading to wide-scale layoffs and invocation of unpaid leave will resume operation on Tuesday under strict COVID-19 protocols that include social distancing.
“You can now go and drink alcohol,” the President teasingly said, while underlining the need for Kenyans observing the preventive measures issued by the government.
President Kenyatta however urged for caution while stressing on the need to exercise personally responsibility particularly in adhering to safety protocols outlined by the health ministry.
“As I give these directives, I underscore the need to continue adhering to the health guidelines and protocols to avoid losing the gains that we have made so far. To also say again that I will not hesitate to escalate these measures if the cases rise again,” Kenyatta warned.
The scaling down of containment protocols, the government said, was predicated on a continued decline of COVID-19 infections.
The Head of State noted that the country’s positivity rate had declined to 4.4 per cent, below the World Health Organization threshold of 5 per cent.
Six months since the first case of the disease was reported in the country, coronavirus has claimed 700 lives and left 38,168 others infected.
“As an affirmation that the enemy is within our border, 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.
He made the address when he closed a day-long National COVID-19 conference, that brought together various stakeholders including County Governors and foreign envoys.