NOT YET SAFE

North Rift governors oppose easing of Covid-19 restrictions

County chiefs say only essential services should continue but under more strict conditions.

In Summary
  • NOREB says it is too early to reopen any businesses and other activities because new cases are still on the increase.
  • There have been calls especially from church leaders to be allowed to operate while observing the measures already in place.
Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut sanitises his hands before flagging off distribution of masks and sanitiser to residents of his constituency on May 17
SAFETY: Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut sanitises his hands before flagging off distribution of masks and sanitiser to residents of his constituency on May 17
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Eight governors from North Rift have opposed calls on the government to relax measures to control Covid-19 and allow reopening of businesses.

Governor Jackson Mandago who is the chairman of the North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB) said it was too early to reopen the economy, including schools and churches, when the spread of Covid-19 appeared to be worsening.

The county chiefs want only essential services to continue but under more strict conditions to avoid the spread of the virus by truck drivers and other officials allowed to travel.

 
 
 

“We feel it's too early to reopen any businesses and other activities because new cases are still on the increase and the daily rate is above the 3-12 per cent recommended before reopening,” the governors said in a statement.

Mandago said they would instead work on strengthening the existing measures to flatten the curve before Kenyans resume normal business.

He warned residents of the region who were still selling and consuming illicit brews that they would be arrested and quarantined.

“We must ensure social distancing in all places including in matatus, do hand washing everywhere and wear face masks as recommended,” Mandago said.

There have been calls, especially from church leaders, to be allowed to operate while observing the measures already in place.

Hotel owners in Eldoret faulted the government for seeking to enforce what they termed as discriminatory conditions for reopening restaurants and eateries.

The chairman of the hotel owners Kevin Okwara said the hospitality industry was on the brink of collapse with thousands of jobs at stake, yet the government was enforcing measures that would not help to revive the sector.

 
 

Okwara said they could not afford the cost of frequent testing of hotel workers or operate without lodging facilities as directed by Tourism CS Najib Balala.

He said hotels should be allowed to operate like other sectors while observing the minimum conditions like wearing of masks and handwashing to control Covid-19.

Elsewhere, Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut said the government should not reopen schools because of the virus and floods that have affected more than 29 counties.

 

Chepkut said the reopening of educational institutions would put the lives of children at risk. Many children in areas like West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet had been displaced from their homes due to floods, he said.

He asked Education CS George Magoha to carefully assess the situation in all parts of the country before considering reopening schools.

Magoha has already set up a task force to consider how education programmes can resume amid Covid-19.

The Kenya National Parents Association welcomed the postponement of the opening of schools for the second term by a month.

The chairman of the parents association Nicholas Maiyo said it was clear the country was not yet safe.

“Let the children remain safe for as long as it will take because we can go back to schools later but if lives are lost we can’t recover that in any way,” said Maiyo.

Edited by Henry Makori