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Tension As Kenya Extends COVID-19 Curfew, Suspends Sale Of Alcohol

By Our Reporter

There is tension and uncertainty in Kenya after President Uhuru Kenyatta decided to extend the nationwide Coronavirus (COVID-19) curfew, blaming ‘reckless’ behaviour for the steep surge in infections.

Kenyatta asked police to enforce the curfew rule regardless of who was found breaking it and banned alcohol sales in restaurants as part of a bid to halt a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

In a stern televised address to the nation on Monday, Kenyatta said a countrywide curfew from 9:00Pm to 4:00Am will remain in place for another 30 days and that “there shall be no sale of alcoholic beverages or drinks in eateries and restaurants” over the same period.

Restaurants are to close by 7:00pm, the president said, while bars are to remain shut.

The new restrictions came a day after health authorities in Kenya reported the highest single-day jump in infections, logging 960 new confirmed cases on Sunday. The total number of infections in the country has tripled in the past month, rising to 17,975, while the death toll from COVID-19 stands at 285.

In his speech, Kenyatta blamed the rise in cases on “reckless” behaviour and said there was notably an “aggressive surge” among young people who were socialising, “particularly in environments serving alcohol”, and were, in turn, infecting their elders.

“The harsh reality my friends is that we are at war. At war with an invisible enemy who is relentless,” Kenyatta said.

Like many nations in East Africa, Kenya took swift action to combat the coronavirus, closing its borders on March 25 when it had only 25 cases, shutting schools and imposing a curfew while advising people to work from home.

But with the shutdown hitting the poor hard, Kenyatta relaxed restrictions earlier this month, lifting the partial lockdown on two of the country’s largest cities, Nairobi and Mombasa, and announcing the resumption of international flights from August 1. However, relaxing the lockdown has since seen a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections.

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