TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Kenya, UK to form committee to review Covid travel restrictions

Agreed on the establishment of a Joint Emergency Committee to address the impasse.

In Summary

• A tweet by the UK High Commission said the two leaders agreed on the establishment of a Joint Emergency Committee to address the emergency travel restrictions.

• Omamo and her UK counterpart underlined the need to work on strengthening trade and deepening regional security.

Foreign CS Amb Raychelle Omamo.
Foreign CS Amb Raychelle Omamo.
Image: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Kenya and the UK have held a meeting over the reciprocal travel bans over surging Covid-19 cases.

Kenyan Foreign CS Amb Raychelle Omamo said she held positive deliberations on Wednesday with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

A tweet by the UK High Commission also said the two leaders agreed on the establishment of a Joint Emergency Committee to address the emergency travel restrictions.

Omamo and her UK counterpart underlined the need to work on strengthening trade and deepening regional security.

Kenyan High Commissioner to the UK Manoah Esipisu and the British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriot are at the heart of seeking de-escalation following the announcement to add Kenya to the UK's coronavirus travel 'red list'.

The UK informed Kenya that one-third of 550 travelers each week turn out Covid positive (when tested on Day 2 of arrival in the UK) when they have left Nairobi with negative tests.

Health experts say Kenya could resolve the same by offering to introduce rapid testing at airports before departure to increase confidence in the test results.

Cargo is allowed, and both countries are very keen not to disrupt cargo activity, especially with Kenyan exports performing at their best in recent history.

This also means that trade has been insulated from the crisis, with cargo flights expected to continue, saving the farming sector from potential losses.

The British High Commission had last week informed Kenya of plans to add it to its red list with Kenyans not be allowed to travel to the UK from April 9.

A statement from the High Commission said the decision was taken by UK Ministers on March 31 following a review of the latest scientific evidence pertaining to the risk of community transmission of Covid- 19 variants.

In response, the Kenyan government said that all the flights from the UK would not be allowed to land on its soil from April 9.

The move prompted, Kenya Airways to suspend its passenger flights to the United Kingdom effective Friday.

The KQ management said that customers affected by the directive may change their booking for later travel or request a refund with all penalties waived.

Following the high demand for travel to the UK before the advisory takes effect, the national carrier has added two more flights on Wednesday and Thursday.

The travel restrictions between Kenya and the UK have is worrying the local tourism sector which has hit rock bottom rock in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the UK being a traditional international tourism source market for Kenya, local industry players are worried this could further hurt the sector's post-Covid-19 recovery.