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Uhuru suspends political gatherings as Covid-19 cases surge

President Uhuru Kenyatta gave his much-anticipated Covid-19 address on Wednesday afternoon and one thing is clear to Kenyans: this will be a different kind of festive season for the country.

In his speech, Mr Kenyatta spelled out a raft of measures that his government will take following the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

Bad news for bars, revelers

One of them is that beginning Wednesday night, curfew will be enforced between 10 pm and 4 am. Additionally, all bars and restaurants open to the public must now close by 9pm.

“In view of the restrictions on the hospitality sector, I further urge all hotels, eateries, bars and other establishments that serve alcohol on wholesale to do al that is necessary to ensure enhanced compliance with the Ministry of Health guidelines. Those who fail will have their establishments immediately shut down,” he said.

The move is likely to spell pain for business owners who were only beginning to gain their footing as the economy re-opened recently. It will also be a blow for party-goers who were planning to celebrate the holiday season in style, but will now have to opt for more low-key celebrations.

Directions on religious gatherings, however, remain unchanged, the Head of State said.

“Other than for the purpose of a wedding or funeral, religious gatherings shall have no more than one third of its seating capacity occupied.”

The strict rules on bars and establishments serving alcohol come on the back of a recent spike in road accidents and Covid-19 cases. For instance, according to a statement released by the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) and the Inspector General of Police last month, road accidents spiked soon after President Kenyatta relaxed curfew rules to start at 11 pm.

“Reports further indicate that from 2nd to 4th October 2020, a total of 60 persons lost their lives, of which most of the accidents were attributed to drunk driving,” the statement said.

Sick public servants to work from home

Other directives issued on Wednesday is that senior public servants, including Cabinet Secretaries, their PSs and CASs, must scale down their public engagements.

Additionally, all State and public officers who are immuno-compromised will now work remotely in order to protect themselves.

Political rallies

The president has also put a stop to all political rallies. Interestingly, this comes just a day after Deputy President William Ruto announced that he would stop all public engagements and meetings.

On schools, Mr Kenyatta they should continue with their learning but under heightened health safety measures. In-person learning will still resume in January.