President Uhuru Kenyatta made it very clear that schools will only be reopened once the government can guarantee the safety of pupils and students in their learning environments and went the further step of asking Kenyans to consider dropping the debate on when the schools will reopen and focus their efforts on if schools are safe enough for their children to resume with their studies.
Speaking while making his speech during the National COVID-19 Conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on Monday, President Kenyatta ended the confusion that has rocked the country due to the ambivalence of Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha by stating the schools might be reopened this year or next year depending on the guidance given by the Ministry of Health.
“As we progressively deescalate the containment measures and resume normalcy on education our paramount concern both as a government but also as parents is the safety and wellbeing of our children. The lives of our children and their health is not a matter of debate,” said President Kenyatta.
“Learning institutions therefore should only be reopened only when we have and can sufficiently guarantee the safety of all our children,” he added.
The Head of State also extended the nationwide dusk to dawn curfew but revised the hours from 9 pm to 4 am to 11 pm to 4 am effective September 29.
President Kenyatta also lifted the directive barring bars, pubs, and nightclubs from selling alcohol but issued a fresh directive dictating the establishments must be closed by 10 pm effective September 29.
Restaurants and eateries will now be free to sell alcohol within the same timelines as the pubs as the order barring them from selling liquor to clients was also vacated.
The permitted maximum size of religious gatherings was also increased to a third of their normal sitting capacity on the advice of the Inter-Faith Council.
The permitted number of people attending funerals and weddings was also reviewed upwards from 100 to 200.
The relaxation of the rules is hinged on strict compliance with the Ministry of Health (MoH) guidelines. Uhuru warned Kenya is not yet out of the woods despite the gains that have been achieved since Kenya reported its first COVID-19 case in March.
“Today as we flatten the Corona curve it appears as though victory is on sight, yes indeed the positivity rate has fallen from 13% in June to 7% in August and now stands at 4.4% with these figures we can be tempted to celebrate more so because we are below the 5% recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for reopening yet these achievements are a paradox themselves yet I say so because the greatest danger is always at that moment of victory,” said President Kenyatta.
“Experience has taught us that we are most vulnerable and fragile at the moment where we think we have won. The possibility of a second wave of this pandemic is real as we have seen in other countries. As an affirmation that the enemy is still within our borders, we continue to record new infections every day,” he stated.
He further reiterated that he would not hesitate to escalate containment measures in the event that any of the COVID-19 indicators start to rise again.