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10pm-4am curfew Gazette notice expires today. What next?

NATIONAL
By Brian Okoth | May 29th 2021

President Uhuru Kenyatta first introduced curfew in the Covid-19 pandemic era on March 25, 2020. [File, Standard]

On April 12, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i stated, in a Gazette notice, that the 10pm-4am nationwide curfew would run for 60 days, starting March 29.

The 60 days of uninterrupted curfew enforcement end today (Saturday, May 29), as per the notice.

As of 1pm Saturday, neither the Interior ministry nor State House communications team informed Kenyans on what the country should expect next.

The information vacuum left many Kenyans on social media wondering whether the status quo would remain, or the curfew observance would cease by default.

The Standard reached State House spokesperson Kanze Dena for comment.

“Wait a little bit. Communication would be made in due course,” she said.

Asked whether the communication would be available before midnight Saturday, Kanze said: “It will be available as soon as possible.”

A senior official at the Interior ministry, who spoke to The Standard in confidence, said communication on what next in regard to curfew protocols is “such a small matter”, that shouldn’t worry Kenyans.

“You can rest assured that communication would be made in due course by the ministry,” he said.

“I don’t think a person of the stature of the President would call a press conference today to say that the curfew is extended, removed or its enforcement hours adjusted. That will be the work of the Interior ministry.

“On whether the communication would be in form of a statement to media houses, a physical press conference or a Gazette notice, is what I am not sure about, but I know it’s the Interior ministry that will communicate subsequent guidelines,” said the informant, who is also a member of the National Covid-19 Task Force.

The source, however, said it’s within the President’s powers to announce new guidelines.

“His speech on May 1 said the curfew will be in place until otherwise directed,” he said.

The Standard retrieved Kenyatta’s May 1 speech. The “until otherwise directed” part, however, applied to the former zoned counties.

“That the hours of curfew in the Zoned Area are revised to commence at 10pm and end at 4am, with effect from midnight on this 1st day of May, 2021, until otherwise directed,” read the President’s speech in part.

On April 12, Interior CS Matiang’i suggested a review of the dusk to dawn curfew, which has been in existence for more than one year, would be communicated on or before May 29.

“This order shall apply during the hours of darkness between eight o’clock in the evening and four o’clock in the morning with effect from the 29th of March 2021 and shall remain in effect for a period of 60 days thereof,” said the minister in a Gazette notice on April 12.

At the time, five zoned counties namely Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kajiado and Nakuru had their curfew cut-off hours set at 8pm to 4am. President Kenyatta, however, revised the hours to 10pm to 4am in his subsequent address on May 1.

The Head of State said his decision to reduce the curfew hours in the zoned counties was triggered by a significant reduction in the Covid-19 infection rate at the time.

President Kenyatta first introduced curfew in the Covid-19 pandemic era on March 25, 2020. At the time, the prohibition of night movement was in force from 7pm to 5am.

The hours have since been revised on multiple occasions.

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