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KWS reopens national parks after Covid lockdown

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Tuesday reopened all national parks in the country to local and international tourists after a temporary closure due to a spike in Covid-19 infections.

KWS, which had closed the parks, said the facilities across national parks, reserves and sanctuaries will now be opened up to 6pm.

This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday lifted his cessation of movement order in Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru counties which recorded the highest Covid-19 infection rates.

“Kenya Wildlife Service has re-opened all its facilities to visitors across parks, reserves and sanctuaries,” the service said in a statement.

A communication by the wildlife agency reaffirmed its commitment to strict adherence to Covid-19 prevention protocols to slow the spread of Covid-19.

KWS said all visitors to the parks, reserves, and sanctuaries will have to adhere strictly to Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols and are required to wear face masks, maintain physical distance, wash hands or use sanitisers while at the facilities.

“Visitors are reminded that it’s mandatory to wear masks, keep social distance, and wash hands with soap and running water, or using a sanitizer at all our facilities,” said KWS.

The president over the weekend said he opted to ease the measures, including reopening hotels and bars up to 7pm as part of measures to rescue the country’s struggling economy.

In March, all national parks, reserves and sanctuaries in the five previously zoned counties were closed in April following the restriction of movement into and out of the regions.

“KWS has stepped up measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in National Parks and Reserve in line with the 15th Presidential address on Coronavirus pandemic. Parks, reserves, and sanctuaries that fall in these counties will close all picnic sites and other sites where visitors have a tendency to congregate,” read part the communication.

In his speech during Labour Day celebrations at State House, Nairobi, President Kenyatta also extended the start of the curfew time to 10pm from previous 8pm ordered in March.