A cloud of expectation hangs over Kenya as citizens are ready for the easing of some restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19.
Private businesses, places of worship and government offices are among entities that are gearing up for the resumption of operations after June 6, the day when current restrictions end and President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to review the measures.
Kenyatta hinted that the government will loosen some of the restrictions, noting that lockdowns and curfews are unsustainable in the long term.
He noted that once the restrictions are partially lifted, citizens will be expected to remain responsible by wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distancing to curb the spread of the disease.
Kenya imposed a partial lockdown in the capital Nairobi and four other counties some 70 days ago and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew across the country, which are the restrictions lauded for slowing down infections.
But they have affected business for schools, gyms, bars and hotels, among others, with up to 1.2 million people losing jobs, according to the Labour Ministry.
It is these businesses that are ready to reopen by installing handwashing and sanitation points and measures to enforce social distancing.
At a hotel along Moi Avenue in the central business district in Nairobi on Thursday, a worker was busy fumigating the facility.
In a separate section, another was remodeling chairs and tables to comply with measures to curb the spread of the disease in anticipation of the partial reopening of the country.
And at the entrance, a handwashing point was prominently installed as well as sanitizers at various points.
Like many other such facilities, all its workers would be expected to take Covid-19 tests and get certificates to show they are free of the disease.
“We were not offering to take away services or did not open earlier because it did not make sense to reopen when workers are still at home. But we believe this is the right time when the government is expected to loosen some restrictions,” said a worker introduced as Martin Kinuthia.
Places of worship are also instituting measures to allow the resumption of services.
Among the new protocols, they are taking the use of thermo guns, having shorter services, ensuring all worshippers sanitise by washing hands and installation of sanitation booths and everyone must wear face masks.
“As we wait for the presidential directive, it has been agreed upon by the government and religious leaders that the following measures must be taken.
“There shall be a sitting plan with markings on the floor where chairs will be placed observing the 1.5 meter rule in all directions,” said John Kitula, the administrative secretary of the African Inland Church.
Other places of worship, including mosques, will follow the same protocols to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Karanja Kibicho, Interior Principal Secretary, said on Wednesday that the government has found itself in a tight spot since the outbreak of the disease, whose cases have taken an upward trajectory, clocking 2,340 on Thursday.
“We cannot stay in a lockdown forever, as a government we make money from taxes but most people are currently not working. We must reopen the economy but under strict guidelines,” said Kibicho.
But as the cloud of optimism hangs over Kenya amid the rise in infections, health experts have warned that most citizens are throwing caution to the wind by resuming old behavior that does not help to curb the spread of the virus.
Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Thursday acknowledged that the government would ease some of the restrictions as it moves to adopt a home-care approach, but Covid-19 remains a huge threat to the east African nation.