Mixed reactions greeted President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to reopen the economy.
The president, in a speech delivered from Harambee House in Nairobi yesterday, announced a raft of measures that will see a phased reopening of an economy battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. These include a lifting of the ban on travel in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera, and resumption of religious services.
In Nyanza, leaders including Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and Nyando MP Jared Okello said the reopening will help address unemployment that had resulted from the restrictions.
Prof Nyong’o, however, said the decision has now shifted the responsibility of fighting the disease to individuals.
According to Okello, the decision to ease Covid-19 restrictions is a great step in improving an economy that had been battered.
Several MCAs in Kisumu also described the reopening of the economy as a blessing but cautioned residents to be more cautious to help control community spread.
“We are happy with the reopening of the economy because it is bound to improve trade and offer our people new lifelines,” said Kondele MCA Joachim Okech.
Chairman of Sindo Traders in Suba South constituency John Kisiara opposed the move saying it will lead to spread of coronavirus.
“People in rural Kenya are now going to mingle with those who travel from counties with high cases of coronavirus infection. This will increase the spread of the disease,” said Mr Kisiara.
In Nakuru, Governor Lee Kinyanjui called on residents to be extra cautious while interacting in public spaces.
Mr Kinyanjui, who cited low levels of preparedness in counties, said personal responsibility will greatly influence the direction the curve on the number of persons infected with Covid-19 will take.
Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis said the public should exercise more caution and minimise interactions.
“Should the number of new infections rise, the government should get back to putting stringent measures in place including going back to lockdown,” said Mr Kiptis.
Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama lauded the president on the move.
“I am glad the president has reopened areas under lockdown. This will encourage personal responsibility in avoiding contracting the virus. Most Kenyans in lockdown areas saw it as a punishment and ignored other guidelines,” said Mr Arama.
He added that the decision to reopen places of worship was welcome.
His sentiments were echoed by Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria who said this will be a reprieve on the economy which has been adversely affected.
“It was a hard decision to make and I believe the president was adequately advised on reopening,” said Gikaria.
In Nyandarua, Governor Francis Kimemia welcomed the new directive but cautioned Kenyans against ignoring rules set by the health ministry.
Nyandarua Interfaith Council Chairman Bishop Josam Kariuki welcomed the move to open up churches.
Mombasa Catholic Archbishop Martin Kivuva said the lifting of travel restrictions would help the economy bounce back.
He said religious leaders will now get a chance to raise awareness on Covid-19 from the pulpit instead of only relying on enforcement from the police.
Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya National Treasurer Sheikh Hassan Omar said they are happy that they are headed back to the mosques but noted that they are likely to face challenges in allowing just 100 people to enter the mosques at a time.
[Harold Odhiambo, James Omoro, Kevine Omollo, Kennedy Gachuhi, Julius Chepkwony, James Munyeki, Patrick Beja and Bernard Sanga]