- Council of Governors has been piling pressure on the head of State to enforce tough restrictions during the Christmas and New Year festivities, citing fears of an increase in coronavirus infections.
Tourism stakeholders have urged President Uhuru Kenyatta not to enforce a lockdown, warning that it will further affect the sector that is currently reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
The Council of Governors has been piling pressure on the head of State to enforce tough restrictions during the Christmas and New Year festivities, citing fears of an increase in coronavirus infections.
Counties leading in new infections are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kajiado, Uasin Gishu, Busia, Machakos, Kisumu and Kilifi.
But tourism players warn that another lockdown will completely paralyse the sector that is on a recovery path.
Led by the Kenya Tourism Federation, Kenya Coast Tourism Association, Kenya Coast Working Group, and Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers the industry players urged President Kenyatta to shoot down the proposal.
“Governors should not be allowed to get away with these knee-jerk reactions. They should be focused on providing isolation centres and equipping medics. It is no secret that many of them did a good public relations work to showcase their preparedness in dealing with Covid-19,” said Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi.
“Anyone pushing for another lockdown is simply not serious. We must balance health and livelihoods. The virus is deep in the community and across the country.”
Mr Hersi said a lockdown does not make sense, adding that Kenyans want governors to ensure that the coronavirus protocols are observed to the letter.
“These same governors pushing for lockdown will get a special pass to zoom between counties. Let them spend time and energy on how to handle the planned doctors’ strike and stop sideshows,” Mr Hersi said on his Facebook page.
“Let them ensure doctors are paid …we are well aware that other workers are paid, why not medics? Doctors are not our first line, they are our last and only line of defence.”
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast executive Dr Sam Ikwaye said this is potentially the worst festive season ever.
“But things can change if the government intervenes by easing restrictions and allowing people to travel. So long as there are restrictions, travellers will be inconvenienced while making bookings. The government should allow people to celebrate while strictly following the protocols,” said Dr Ikwaye in an interview with the Business Daily.
“We don’t want to ruin anyone’s festivities. Let us allow people to move around. But irresponsible selling of alcohol should be stopped,” he added.
This comes amidst low bookings at the Coast ahead of December festivities. Tourism stakeholders attribute the low uptake to fear over impending restriction of movements expected to be imposed by the government.
Currently, most beach hotels at the Coast are operating between 40 and 55 per cent on local tourism while international visitors are just two per cent.
Last year the hotels operated above 80 per cent local tourism and 25 per cent international circuit. Hoteliers are afraid that restriction of movements might worsen their business, which ground to a halt on the onset of the pandemic.
But the rising coronavirus cases ahead of the festivities have put the government at the crossroads. Medics are concerned that the December merrymaking will worsen the coronavirus cases. The Kenya Coast Working Group chairman, Mr Husnain Noorani, said the looming lockdown is hampering hotel occupancies due to the pandemic.