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Kenya reopens national parks to boost tourism after COVID lockdown

National parks in Kenya had been closed to visitors due to COVID-19.

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4 – Kenya reopened its national parks to local and international tourists Tuesday, following a temporary closure occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) which had closed the parks said the facilities across parks, reserves and sanctuaries will now be opened up to 6.00 pm after President Uhuru Kenyatta eased a partial lockdown in five counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, and Nakuru counties where high COVID-19 infection rates had been reported.

The president said he opted to ease the measures, including reopening hotels and bars up to 7pm as part of measures to rescue the country’s struggling economy.

“Kenya Wildlife Service has re-opened all its facilities to visitors across parks, reserves and sanctuaries,” the agency said in a statement welcoming local and international tourists.

KWS reaffirmed its commitment to strict adherence to COVID-19 prevention protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19 whose infection rate had slowed to 8 per cent in the first week of May.

All visitors are required to wear face masks, maintain physical distance, wash hands or use sanitizers while at the facilities.

All National parks, Reserves and Sanctuaries in the five counties were closed in April following the restriction of movement into and out of the regions when Kenya’s infection rate of COVID-19 was at highs of 22 per cent.

In his speech during Labour day celebrations at State House, President Kenyatta also extended the start of the curfew time to 10pm.

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Curfew hours in the five counties had been revised to commence at 8 pm when a lockdown was imposed in March.

The President said the decision was reached after data from medical experts suggested that the COVID caseload within the zoned area had reduced by 72 per cent.

“Given the expert evidence we have received and on the counsel of the National Security Council and the National Emergency Response Committee on COVID-19, I have directed that the cessation of movement into and out of the Zoned area be and is hereby lifted; the hours of curfew in the Zoned Area are revised to commence at 10:00pm and end at 4:00am, with effect from mid-night on this 1st day of May 2021, until otherwise directed,” Kenyatta said.

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