After a week of protests over the revised COVID-19 guidelines, President Uhuru Kenyatta has come out to defend the new measures that included locking down five counties, suspending face-to-face learning and sports events.
“The measures that were imposed are not my measures. But they are measures brought to us by the professionals…. If we had gone by their extreme measures…they wanted us to lock down the whole economy,” President Kenyatta said on Thursday.
Kenya is not the only country facing a resurgent COVID-19 wave with several European countries extending or reintroducing lockown measures but the resilience of their economies determines what effect these measures will have on their citizens.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics reveals that 1.72 m Kenyans lost their jobs last year between march and June as a result of the lockdown. Although cumulative number has not be computed, thousands continue to lose jobs in the most affected sectors
“This lockdown is very different from the first one and that is why we had to take some of those measures….we have not locked down the economy. We have locked down specific areas that have contributed to the spread of the virus, but the rest of the economy is still going on.,” Uhuru added.
In the last few days #unlockourcountry has been trending as Kenyans online share the challenges they have faced since the new measures were announced…the president hinting at the possibility of some relief measures for the most affected sectors in partnership with specific county governments.
The Head of State also announced government plans to cushion those in the hotel and entertainment industry who are affected by the new lock down in the five diseased zones.
“As a result of that partial lockdown some segments of our economy are hurting; churches, hotels and bars….we will have to look to whatever measures we can take to see what will apply to those 5 specific counties,” the Head of State added.
The revised COVID-19 guidelines were imposed for 30 days, but there are certain factors that will determine whether they will be rolled-back sooner or later.
“As to when these measures will be removed, and we can go back to normal. It depends on how we are able to flatten this curve, When will we get to an infection rate that has gone to a high of almost 27%, back down to below 5% which is the recommended level,”
The president added that action will be taken against those who will contravene the measures that have been put in place whilst at the same time reassuring the country that those who have received their first dose of the vaccine will not miss the second one.