NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2- The economic meltdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent measures to contain it were evident Friday as streets in the capital Nairobi remained deserted, a rare Easter when many businesses expected to cash in.
Kenya closed bars last week and ordered takeaway services for restaurants and hotels dealing a major blow to the already struggling economy.
President Uhuru Kenyatta also declared a lockdown in Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kajiado and Nakuru-the five worst hit counties with high COVID-19 cases.
He reviewed night curfew hours to start from 8pm from the earlier 10pm that remains in other parts of the country and banned all gatherings, including churches and political meetings.
On a day many people could have streamed to Uhuru Park with their families, a spot check by Capital FM News revealed that the grounds were empty as were the streets in town. A similar situation was reported in most parts in the locked counties.
“We are just hoping we will get enough money to buy food for today,” said Collins Amani who had an artificial water pool for children to swim said. He said he only received two clients at Uhuru Park where he expected to do brisk business.
Churches remained closed in Friday, with others opting for virtual services following an order by the president in measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
On the day many worshippers could have been in church to commemorate the crucification of Jesus and his death in Calvary, there was no activities in most Kenyan churches.
Nairobi’s main Catholic Church, the Holy Family Basilica, the doors were closed with only guards and one worshipper spotted outside where he was praying even as priests conducted an online session streamed for worshippers at home.
““This is the second year I am doing this and I will not be discouraged. I prefer coming to church and even though I am praying from the outside I still feel like I am inside the House of the Lord. I know the pandemic has affected all of us, but I urge my fellow Christians to hold on and continue serving God under all circumstances,” Zachary Omweri said
Security guards thee said there was no activity scheduled.
But at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Provost Sammy Wainaina of and other priests were conducting an online service streamed for worshippers to their homes.
“We did not agree with the closure of churches but since we are law-abiding citizens, we had to ask our fellow Christians to follow this service on our online platforms. We will continue ministering to them online until churches are opened again,” Wainaina said.
He urged worshippers to always attend church online in adhering to the government regulations.
Kenya is currently experiencing a third and fierce wave of the disease, which has resulted to more stringent measures, that include a lockdown effected on five counties of Kiambu, Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos and Nakuru.