As the night curfew ends today, what next for Kenya?

A police officer inspects a motorist on First Avenue in Eastleigh, Nairobi after the Government during the curfew. [File, Standard]

Kenyans are eagerly waiting to see whether the government will lift the restriction of movement at night, which has been in force for the last 10 months. 

When President Uhuru Kenyatta last updated Kenyans on the status of the coronavirus on November 4, last year, he proclaimed a 60-day night curfew restricting movement from 10pm to 4am. That curfew ends today.

Yesterday, it was unclear whether the restrictions, which among other things also banned political gatherings, would be extended or lifted altogether. 

By the time of going to press, the government had not made any statement over the expiry of restrictions.

Government Spokesperson Col (rtd) Cyrus Oguna was unavailable to give an official communication on the matter when Sunday Standard contacted him on phone.

Presidential address

On Friday, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the president was likely to address the nation today.

Already, the period of the Interfaith Council for National Response to Corona Virus Pandemic has been extended for 60 days.

Through a Gazette Notice on December 31, last year, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i gave the interfaith council more time to operate.

The first curfew restriction (7pm to 5am) was issued by President Kenyatta last March 25 and came into effect on March 27.

The head of state said the move was aimed at curbing the surging spread of Covid-19.

Only medical practitioners and essential service providers were exempted. International flights were suspended, and bars and restaurants were also closed.

Later, the government began to ease restrictions revising curfew to start from 9pm and on September 28 moved it to 10pm.

Following the easing of restrictions, Kenya’s positivity rate of tests rose to 16 per cent from four per cent, with the president saying the country had experienced a “reversal” that prompted him to increase restrictions.

In November, Uhuru ordered for suspension of political gatherings with bars and restaurants being asked to close business by 9pm.

Political gatherings

As government ponders on the next move, cases of infections and deaths continue to increase. More than 96,000 cases, over 16,000 deaths and some 78,000 recoveries have so far been reported.

The enforcement of nightly curfew has been a success, but political gatherings have continued as politicians conduct by-election campaigns and popularisation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Violations of the political gatherings were witnessed as leaders engaged in campaigns in several parts of the country, especially Msambweni constituency, where there was a heated contest between supporters of ODM’s Omar Boga and independent candidate Feisal Bader.