The first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported on March 14, 2020. The government adopted a number of containment measures, including social distancing and heightened restrictions in most non-essential social spaces to gatherings; encouragement of teleworking where possible; establishment of isolation facilities; declaration of night curfew and limitations on public transportation passenger capacity. Some of the containment measures have since been relaxed. Domestic flights commenced on July 15th, 2020, while international flights commenced on August 1st, 2020. All international arrivals have to undertake specifically a SarsCoV2 RT PCR Swab test, failure to which they will be quarantined for two weeks. Test result notwithstanding, passengers from selected counties are required to undergo a fourteen-day quarantine. A resurgence of infections in a second wave led to reversal of some of the relaxed measures. Physical participation in places of worship with an age limit of 65 years to take a maximum of 90 minutes down from two hours. Attendance to weddings limited 50 people down from 200 people. While funeral attendance limit remains 200 people, those allowed at the grave side are only 15. Schools re-opening was in phases and were fully reopened on January 4, 2021. An initial Covid-19 vaccine deployment plan put out by the ministry of health targets 30 percent population coverage by mid-2023, with two thirds of the vaccines expected to be provided by GAVI/COVAX and the remainder procured by government. The first phase of deployment, which aims to cover 3 percent of the population by end-June 2021, would focus on frontline health workers. The first batch of the vaccine covering 0.5 percent of the population arrived in the country in early March 2021. A rapid resurgence of infections in March 2021 led to reversal of relaxation measures introduced since mid-2020. On March 26, the authorities reimposed containment measures in Nairobi and four neighboring counties, including a ban on movement in and out of the area; cessation of in-person meetings, worship, and dining; closure of bars; extension of curfew hours and withdrawal of curfew passes; directing employees to work from home; sending the Parliament on recess; and closing schools and universities again (primary and secondary schools had started planned 7-week recess the week before). In the remaining counties, physical participation in places of worship, funerals, and weddings is allowed with restrictions on the number of participants. Easing of cases from the recent third wave's peak led to relaxation of some containment measures on May 1, 2021. Cessation of movement in and out of the five zoned counties was lifted; bars to operate until 7pm; schools re-opened; suspension of sporting and recreational activities lifted.
- Is a curfew in place? Yes
- The curfew in the 13 “hotzone” counties (Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Kericho, Bomet, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori ) is restricted from 7pm to 4 am. Other counties will maintain the existing curfew of 10 pm to 4 am;
- Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? No
- Are commercial flights operating? Yes
- International with restrictions. The Government of Kenya banned all flights from the United Kingdom starting April 9, 2021. International flights may be cancelled on short notice.
- Is public transportation operating? Yes
- Individuals using public or private transport are required to wear a protective mask.
Fines for Non-Compliance
- Those violating the curfew may be arrested and put in mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
Key Policy Responses as of June 3, 2021
The government, as part of the FY2019/20 budget (ending June 30, 2020), initially earmarked Ksh40 billion (0.4 percent of GDP) for Covid-related expenditure, including health sector (enhanced surveillance, laboratory services, isolation units, equipment, supplies, and communication); social protection (cash transfers and food relief); and funds for expediting payments of existing obligations to maintain cash flow for businesses during the crisis. The FY2020/21 budget includes a Ksh56.6 million (0.5 percent of GDP) economic stimulus package that includes a new youth employment scheme, provision of credit guarantees, fast-tracking payment of VAT refunds and other government obligations, increased funding for cash transfers, and several other initiatives. A package of tax measures has been adopted, including full income tax relief for persons earning below the equivalent of $225 per month, reduction of the top pay-as you earn rate from 30 to 25 percent, reduction of the base corporate income tax rate from 30 to 25 percent, reduction of the turnover tax rate on small businesses from 3 to 1 percent, and a reduction of the standard VAT rate from 16 to 14 percent. Some of the tax measures, including the reduction of top PAYE rate, corporate income tax rate and VAT were reversed effective January 1, 2021.
MONETARY AND MACRO-FINANCIAL
On March 24, the central bank (1) lowered its policy rate by 100 bps to 7.25 percent; (2) lowered banks’ cash reserve ratio by 100 bps to 4.25 percent; (3) increased the maximum tenor of repurchase agreements from 28 to 91 days; and (4) announced flexibility to banks regarding loan classification and provisioning for loans that were performing on March 2, 2020, but were restructured due to the pandemic. The central bank has also encouraged banks to extend flexibility to borrowers’ loan terms based on pandemic-related circumstances and encouraged the waiving or reducing of charges on mobile money transactions to disincentivize the use of cash.On April 15, the central bank suspended the listing of negative credit information for borrowers whose loans became non-performing after April 1 for six months. A new minimum threshold of $10 was set for negative credit information submitted to credit reference bureaus. On April 29, the central bank lowered its policy rate by 25 bps to 7.0 percent. Some of the measures including waiving or reducing of charges on mobile money transactions and suspension of listing of negative credit information for borrowers were reversed on January 1, 2021.The measures on loan restructuring and classification flexibility expired on March 2, 2021.
Civic Freedom Tracker
PUBLIC (STATE CURFEW) ORDER, 2020
The order imposes a daily curfew and restrictions on individuals' movement, on account of the coronavirus. Public gatherings are prohibited during curfew period. (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 27 Mar 2020
Issue(s): Assembly, Movement
MINISTRY OF HEALTH MEASURES
The order suspends all public gatherings and meetings for 30 days. The order also states that Kenyans must not "abuse" social media platforms or spread misinformation that "can cause fear and panic." (See primary source or citation here)
Date Introduced: 13 Mar 2020
Issue(s): Assembly, Disinformation, Expression