COVID-19: Kenya set to reopen to international flights

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday announced a โ€œphased reopeningโ€ of the country, with the resumption of international flights from August 1 as well as the lifting of internal travel restrictions.

The move comes as pressure mounts to kickstart the countryโ€™s ailing economy after nearly four months of coronavirus restrictions that have devastated key industries such as tourism.

Kenyatta said in a televised address that โ€œinternational air travel into and out of the territory of Kenya shall resume effective 1 August 2020.โ€

He also announced the lifting of a ban on movement in and out of the capital Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and northeastern Mandera.

However, a curfew from 9pm to 4am will remain in place for another 30 days, effective immediately.

Kenya has recorded 7,886 cases of the virus and 160 deaths โ€” the highest official figures in East Africa โ€” and has seen a steep increase in numbers in recent weeks.

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Fewer than 200,000 people have been tested in a population of 51 million people.

In June, Kenyatta had said that before lifting restrictions, the country would need to have contained infections with numbers headed downwards; the health care system must be prepared to deal with a surge in infections, and the capacity for surveillance and contact tracing must be in place.

He said Monday that experts looking at those conditions determined โ€œwe have not met the irreducible minimum 100%โ€.

However, they agreed โ€œwe have reached a reasonable level of preparedness across the country to allow us to reopen,โ€ he said.

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Kenyatta also warned the reopening was โ€œconditionalโ€.

โ€œAny trends that signal a worsening of the pandemic, we will have no choice but to return to the lockdown,โ€ he said.

Kenyatta also announced that places of worship will be allowed to reopen, but with a maximum of 100 people attending.

He urged citizens to continue to implement social distancing, and to avoid travel as much as possible, asking them to, โ€œexercise cautious optimism and avoid reckless abandon.โ€


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