Kenya lifts longstanding COVID curfew as infections ease

President Uhuru Kenyatta announces immediate lifting of a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew in force since March 2020.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation during the Mashujaa Day
Kenya's President Kenyatta addresses the nation during the Mashujaa Day celebrations to honour those who contributed to the country's independence struggle [Monicah Mwangi/Reuters]

Kenya has lifted a nationwide curfew that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced.

The East African nation, which has a population of 54 million, has reported 252,199 cases of COVID-19 and 5,233 deaths but inoculation rates remain low, with only 4.6 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated, according to the latest government figures.

Kenyatta said infection rates had fallen, with less than 5 percent of tests each day proving positive.

He announced the decision to lift the dusk-to-dawn curfew on Wednesday to cheers and applause at an event to mark Mashujaa Day, a public holiday to honour those who contributed to the country’s independence struggle.

“It is now time to shift our focus from survival to co-existing with the disease,” he said.

He said congregations attending churches and other religious institutions could rise to two-thirds of capacity, up from a third previously, although everyone should still adhere to other rules, such as wearing face masks.

“We are not yet out of the woods and we must therefore continue to observe the containment measures … to sustain the gains we are making and guarantee the full re-opening of our economy,” he said.

He told officials to ensure a fill-and-finish plant for COVID-19 vaccines started operating in Kenya by April next year.

He also unveiled measures to boost the economy, including the procurement of fertiliser for farmers by the government.

Source: News Agencies