Coronavirus Updates

COVID-19: Kenya lifts longstanding mandatory wearing of masks

The mandatory wearing of masks has now been lifted, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe has announced.

“However, people should maintain social distancing to ensure risk of spread is limited,” he said.

He however encouraged the wearing of masks during indoor functions to curb the spread of Covid-19 disease.

“All Kenyans to continue to adhere to social measures, ensure frequent hand washing, sanitizing and exercise personal responsibility,” he said.

“There has been a lot of debate on facemasks. Wearing of facemasks in open places is now lifted.”

Kagwe said Kenyans should be strict with ministry of heath protocols when in public spaces.

“If you are going to eat in a meat joint, the standards must be high. The sanitation, washing of hands must be top-notch,” he said.

“You must also respect the people eating in your joint. You must respect your customers and make sure the restaurant is clean. There will be penalties if that does not happen.”

Speaking when he addressed the media on Friday, Kagwe said worship places will have a full capacity provided the congregants are vaccinated.

Kenya reported 323, 140 cases of Covid-19 and 5,644 deaths but the inoculation rate remains low, with only 28.5 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated as of March 10, 2022, according to the latest Ministry of Health figures.

The Ministry of Health imposed a nationwide mask mandate on April 3, 2020, at the height of Covid-19 infections.

The National Police Service moved to enforce the regulations alongside social distancing guidelines.

Some regulations such as curfew, social distancing were later lifted amid an economic outcry.

President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the decision to lift the curfew during Mashujaa Day last year.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late on Thursday said some 98% of the US population live in locations where Covid-19 levels are low enough that people do not need to wear masks indoors.

The CDC on Feb. 25 dramatically eased its COVID-19 guidelines for when Americans should wear masks indoors, saying they could drop them in counties experiencing what it described as low or medium COVID-19 levels.

Last month, the CDC initially said 70% of counties covering 72% of Americans could drop masks. The latest update says 98% of Americans who live in 94% of U.S. counties can ditch masks.

The revised figures may give ammunition to critics who want the administration to lift mask requirements on airplanes, trains, and in transit hubs.

-The-Star

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