Yesterday’s presidential directive lifting partial lockdown of five counties and relaxing other Covid-19 restrictions was timely. In March, President Uhuru Kenyatta imposed travel restrictions in the counties, including the capital Nairobi, to contain surging coronavirus infections.
The country was in the grip of the third wave of the pandemic and the situation was threatening to get out of hand. The impact was instant. Businesses that were just coming out of slough after prolonged closures last year relapsed into obscurity.
Economic recovery suffered another shock; indeed recovery will take long to be realised. The informal sector as well as the hospitality and transport industries ran aground. Learning was disrupted especially in tertiary-level institutions. It was clear to all that extended restrictions would be catastrophic.
However, while appreciating the government’s goodwill and courage to reopen the economy, the fact is coronavirus remains a deadly threat. We have not turned the corner. Infections may have declined, but the virus has not been vanquished.
Which puts enormous responsibility on citizens to observe high standards of controls to avert further infections. We must avoid careless and reckless behaviour that can expose us to risks. Living in the new normal means making sacrifices like minimising leisure and non-essential travel. Employers must embrace virtual work practices.
India provides a grave example of where lockdowns were eased and citizens threw caution to the wind only to be engulfed in a new wave of lethal infections that has pushed the nation to the edge. We cannot afford to go that route.
In the interim, the government should intensify vaccination to insulate citizens against the virus. The onus is on all of us to keep safe.