President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday lifted the cessation of movement orders in the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa and Mandera Counties effective Tuesday, June 7, 2020, after being satisfied that the country has achieved a reasonable level of preparedness to allow a phased reopening of the country.
Speaking during a live address to the nation on the steps of Harambee House, President Kenyatta however ordered the extension of the nationwide curfew by another 30 days stating that the country is not out of the woods yet to warrant full reopening of the economy.
The president said after consulting the Advisory Taskforce on COVID-19, the government saw it fit to allow movement across the country but warned that the government will closely monitor health trends and statistics and in the event the situation exercabates, the government will have no other option but to lock down the country once again.
“Fellow Kenyans by reopening Nairobi, Mombasa, and Mandera, we must be cognizant of the fact that we are all much more at risk than we were when the restrictions were in place so we must, therefore, exercise what I call cautious optimism and avoid reckless abandon,” said Uhuru.
“I believe that although the path to recovery is rocky and uneven, it is navigable and that is why I must give two qualifications to this phased reopening,” stated Uhuru.
The two qualifications are locking down the country in the event the reopening triggers widespread infections capable of overwhelming the country’s health systems and the contribution of Kenyans to flattening the curve.
“The order to reopen is given conditionally, should the situation deteriorate and pose a challenge to our health infrastructure, we will have to revert back to lockdown, in the next 21 days, we shall study patterns of interactions and trends of the spread of the disease, any trend that signals the worsening of the pandemic, we will have no choice but to return to lockdown at zero option,” said Uhuru.
“This order to partially reopen will only bear fruit if we recognize that this exercise is a shared responsibility, it is my intention that not only shall we reopen as we have done now but we shall go further in our partial reopening as we go forward, however, I must be very clear that that shall be based on the behaviour of each and every one of us,” said Uhuru.
On June 6, Uhuru opted against opening the country citing under-preparedness to deal with the pandemic and went even to the extent of singling out Siaya County as only having a 10-bed isolation facility while the national government was advocating for at least 300 beds in all counties in order to ease the movement restriction measures.
Fast forward to Monday, Uhuru exuded confidence that the challenge that lays ahead of the country is not insurmountible.
On June 29, the President told a forum on US-Africa trade convened by the Corporate Council on Africa that the government would lift the inter-county lockdown in a couple of days.
Once the lockdown would be lifted, Uhuru had said, the government would allow domestic flights.
“We are going to be starting the domestic flights and this is what we will use as a trial in the next couple of days. We are opening the inter-county lockdown,” Uhuru said during the virtual forum.