Kenya has extended the operating hours for bars and restaurants from next week, offering a major relief to operators who have been pushing the state to lift the restrictions.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Thursday that pubs and eateries will be allowed to close at 11 pm, but must observe strict health guidelines such as social distancing and sanitising.
Bars in the country have been operating from 5 pm up to 7 pm while restaurants have been running from 8 am up to 9 pm.
The new measures were announced a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the nationwide curfew, which has been in place since March last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“With the removal of curfew hours, we are reverting to the closure of bars and restaurants at 11 pm or the time allowed by the licensing authorities.
“Protocols on handwashing, social distancing, and sanitising however remains in force,” CS Kagwe said.
On the resumption of night travel, Mr Kagwe said the Ministry of Transport would give directions.
He urged Kenyans to go for Covid-19 jabs, adding that Kenya will soon receive 500,000 J&J vaccines.
Acting Director-General for Health, Dr Patrick Amoth, noted that the distribution of vaccines in arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya was a challenge because health facilities are few and far apart.
To this end, the government will now use food distribution networks to also give Covid-19 jabs to residents, Dr Amoth said.
"Use of mobile facilities is also part of the plan to ensure Asal regions are vaccinated. We will follow the pastoralists," CS Kagwe said.
Despite declining Covid-19 infections, the Ministry says the fast-spreading Delta variant is still the main strain in Kenya.
"We are keenly looking out for sub-variants of Delta among others through genome sequencing," Dr Amoth said.
The Ministry has also advised Kenyans to stick to the same vaccine and not go for booster shots.