Phased reopening in Kenya after months-long coronavirus lockdown

President Uhuru Kenyatta says international flights to resume on August 1 and restrictions to be lifted in main cities.

    Kenyatta warned that should the situation worsen over the next few weeks, the country could be locked down again [File: John Muchucha/AP]
    Kenyatta warned that should the situation worsen over the next few weeks, the country could be locked down again [File: John Muchucha/AP]

    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced a phased reopening of the country, with the resumption of international flights from August 1 as well as the lifting of internal travel restrictions.

    The move on Monday came as pressure mounts to kick-start the country's ailing economy after four months of coronavirus restrictions which have devastated key industries such as tourism.

    Kenyatta said in a televised address that international air travel into and out of the territory of Kenya shall resume from August 1, while domestic flights are scheduled to restart on July 15.

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

    "Today I order and direct that the cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi metropolitan area, Mombasa county and Mandera county that is currently enforced shall lapse today or at 4am (01:00 GMT) tomorrow, Tuesday, the 7th of July 2020," said Kenyatta.

    He, however, extended the current nationwide curfew between 9pm and 4am for a further 30 days and warned he would not hesitate to "revert to lockdown" if the situation worsened.

    "In the next 21 days we shall study patterns of interactions and the spread of the disease. Any trends that signal a worsening of the pandemic, we will have no choice but to return to lockdown," he said.

    Kenya has confirmed nearly 7,900 cases of the coronavirus as of Monday, with 160 deaths - the highest official figures of fatalities in East Africa.

    The outbreak has battered the economy, with the finance ministry projecting growth to slow to 2.5 percent this year from 5.4 percent last year.

    Stigma, fears of quarantine hinder Kenya’s COVID-19 fight (2:46)

    SOURCE: News agencies