The government has released set of protocols for travelers jetting in and out of the country to ensure spread of Covid 19 was averted ahead of the resumption of international flights in two days’ time.
Speaking at Afya house during the daily update of the status of Corona virus, Transport, infrastructure and housing Cabinet Secretary James Macharia insisted that the safety measures must be followed to the letter to avert further spread of the pandemic.
He said the transport sector was critical in containing the spread of the highly contagious disease but also key in opening up the economy.
Macharia said although many Kenyans and international visitors were apprehensive about the resumption of the international flights, it was imperative for the government to put up safety guidelines to ensure that commuters were not exposed during their travels.
He announced that all travelers will only be allowed to board flight after presenting PCR based COVID 19 negative certificate and did not exhibit symptoms of the disease and must have undergone the test at least 96 hours before making their journeys.
“ Only travelers with clearance certificate with body temperatures not exceeding 37.5 degrees Celsius ensure and do not have persistent cough, difficulty in breathing and flu like symptoms before travel shall be exempt from quarantine” he said.
He however was quick to point that “This was not a blanket approval for those who met the criteria since there was a list of countries from which passengers may not be allowed access as they were under reviewed.
Macharia named citizens that have been cleared to travel into Kenya include China, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia and morocco which have mild or limited community transmission and have declining incidences.
In terms of protocols, for passengers travelling outside the country the CS noted will be required to abide by the particular travels, health and COVID 19 related requirements of the destination countries,
“Before you travel, make sure you know where you are going and what country expects you and I also want to put some heavy responsibility on airlines that before you board your passengers just like you check on the visa requirements make sure passengers comply with requirements of where they are going”, he said
The CS explained that for passengers arriving on flights after the curfew hours will be allowed to proceed to hotels or residences while those departing after curfew hours but have valid air ticket and boarding pass shall also be allowed to proceed to the airport.
For Drivers of those passengers, CS Macharia said, they should have evidence that they came from the airport to drop or even to pick up passengers.
On Physical distancing on airplanes, the CS said that crew members of the airlines must make announcements severally to passengers to adhere to preventive measures including strict hand hygiene, etiquette and wearing of face masks.
“Working jointly with airport authority and civil aviation, the transport ministry is reviewing frequency and timing of flights to facilitate physical distancing at the airport despite the number of people travelling expected to be a bit low”, Macharia said
Despite the measures put, the CS confirmed that opening up of international air space should have huge positive impacts on the tourism sector which employs at least 1.6 million workers.
“Kenya airways do carry cargo in passenger flights especially the Boeing 787 which has a capacity to lift over 40 tons of fresh produce an indication that the resumption will go a long way in opening the export and import business ”, Macharia said.
He said the resumption of Madaraka’s SGR, will also boost both domestic and International travels which will likely help resuscitate the dwindling economy after the Covid 19 crisis.
By Wangari Ndirangu