It has been over three months since travelling in and out of Kenya was allowed. With the state’s economy ailing, there is much concern as to whether or not Kenya will reopen its borders to international travelers. But how soon will it happen? Let’s take a look.
In a televised address yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a phased reopening of the nation. This includes the resumption of domestic flights on July 15th, as well as international air travel on August 1st.
Kenyatta explains that strict guidelines will accompany the reopening of flights.
“This will be in strict conformity with all protocols from the Ministry of Health, local and international civil aviation authorities, and any additional requirements applicable at the ports of departure, arrival or transit,” he added.
The Citizen reports that Cabinet Secretaries to the Ministry of Transport and Tourism have also been touring significant airports in Kenya to ensure its readiness to accept travelers again.
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Strict guidelines for Kenya Airways passengers
According to The Citizen, passengers on domestic and international flights to Kenya with Kenya Airways will experience a one-hour increase in check-in times to mitigate the spread of the virus. To facilitate social distancing, airport lounges will have floor markers. On top of compulsory facemasks, passengers must adhere to specific zones while boarding.
CEO of Kenya Airways, Allan Kilavuka, assures passengers of the airline’s preparedness to start flying.
“We want to assure our passengers, staff and crew that the measures that have been taken to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission are sufficient and we are ready to fly.” – Kenya Airways CEO, Allan Kilavuka. #InThisTogether #StaySafe#KAACares
Publisert av Kenya Airports Authority Lørdag 4. juli 2020
“We want to assure our passengers, staff and crew that the measures that have been taken to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission are sufficient and we are ready to fly,” Kilavuka said on Saturday.
Troubled Kenya Airways had to halt international flights effective from March 25th 2020. With no cash reserves in place, the flag carrier was struggling badly amid the pandemic. The airline transported cargo to make ends meet. It is no wonder it is all hands on deck when it comes to the phased reopening of the nation.
The move to reopen Kenya came after consulting expert recommendations. According to The Star, Kenyatta explained that one group of experts believed saving the economy would, in turn, help Kenya overcome the corona-crisis. He added,
“They argued that Covid-19 was a health crisis alright, but it was also an economic crisis at the core. If we take care of the economics of Corona, they argued, the health crisis will be easier to manage; more so with the necessary protocols in place.”
Additionally, another set of experts made up of medical scientists and researchers expressed a stance against Kenya reopening. They planned to only reopen the country after it had met irreducible minimums. However, after an evaluation by stakeholders, it was decided that the state had not met irreducible minimums completely.
Eventually, a consensus was reached, and the government decided on a phased reopening of the economy and to ease certain restrictions. One is the lifting of a ban of movement in and out of the capital, Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and Mandera county.
A conditional reopening
However, the reopening is still conditional. President Kenyatta informs that the next 21 days will be crucial for the nation. The state will “study patterns of interactions and the spread of the disease.”
Should the situation worsen, Kenyatta says the government will reverse the phased reopening, leaving the country in lockdown once more. Kenyatta urged the citizens to do their part in making sure they abide by the laws and social distancing measures in place.
— tv47 Kenya (@tv47ke) July 6, 2020
At the time of writing, Kenya has over 8,000 cases of the coronavirus in its country, and 164 deaths – the highest in East Africa. Just three days ago, on July 4th, CGTN reported Kenya’s highest single-day spike. That day itself, the state recorded 389 new positive COVID-19 cases.
With the numbers increasing, the announcement of its phased reopening might be short-lived. But, if the state can mitigate the virus after the economy reopens, then we will possibly see an influx of travelers to Kenya next month.
Do you think Kenya’s move to reopen borders in August is too soon? Are you planning to visit Kenya this year? Let us know in the comments.