High Court quashes order banning public gatherings

The High Court has ruled that Covid-19 containment measures on public gatherings and restriction of movement ratified by Cabinet are unlawful.

President Uhuru Kenyatta

In its ruling delivered by Justice A.C Mrima on August 18, the high court said that it's a violation of the constitution to direct law enforcement officers on how to discharge their duties.

"A declaration be and is hereby issued that all the directives made by the National Security Advisory Committee on 7th October 2020 and ratified by the Cabinet on 8th October 2020 for the use of section 5 of the Public Order Act Cap 56 of the Laws of Kenya to contain, restrict and prohibit public gatherings, meetings and processions in the name of combating Covid-19 and containing the weaponization of public gatherings are unlawful, unconstitutional and in violation of Articles 10 (2) (a) and 245 (2) (b) and (4) of the Constitution for directing the law enforcement officers on how to discharge their duties," the ruling read.

"An order of Certiorari be and is hereby issued calling into this Court and quashing the entire directives made by the National Security Committee on 7th October 2020 and ratified by the Cabinet on 8th October 2020, for the use of section 5 of the Public Order Act Cap 56 of the laws of Kenya to contain, restrict and prohibit public gatherings, meetings and processions in the name of combating Covid - 19 and containing the weaponization of public gatherings," continued Justice Mrima.

He also issued an order restraining the Inspector General of Police whether by himself or any police officer under its command from taking directives from the National Security Advisory Committee and / or any other person, organ, body or entity in the manner in which the Inspector General of Police or its officers should carry out their constitutional and statutory duties save for the provisions of Articles 157 (4) and 245 (4) of the Constitution.

Uhuru's extension of Covid-19 restriction measures

I, Uhuru Kenyatta, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces of the Republic of Kenya, upon the advice of the National Security Council, and in keeping with the recommendations of the National Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19, do hereby issue this revised statement of containment measures vide this Public Order No. 5 of 2021 on the Coronavirus Pandemic, as follows:

1. THAT, the hours of curfew in the territory of the Republic of Kenya shall continue to be observed from 10.00pm to 4.00am for a further containment period of 60 days. Consequently, the differentiated curfew hours and specific restrictions for the previously identified void-19 hotspot zones of Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay, Migori, Busia, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho, Bomet and Trans Nzoia Counties are lifted, and these Counties will now observe the nationwide curfew prescriptions as specified herein;

2. THAT, all physical/in-person public gatherings and meetings, including political rallies and campaign meetings for impending by-elections are hereby suspended with immediate effect for a period of 60 days.

3. THAT, all other social gatherings, including weddings, celebrations of marriage or traditional unions, ceremonies of rites of passage, funeral/cremation ceremonies and all other similar events or ceremonies, shall strictly adhere to the 100-person attendance limit as prescribed;

4. THAT, in addition to the prevailing guidelines on funeral/interment ceremonies, and to further enhance compliance with the guidelines thereto, officiators and proprietors of funeral homes are to strictly adhere to the prescribed 96 hours of confirmation of death, and secure processing for burial within this period, failure to which appropriate action against management, staff, and premises shall be taken where exceptions are not justified;

5. THAT, places of worship nationwide, shall continue to strictly adhere to the one third (1/3) rule for in person worship and congregational worship, and protocols on hygiene and social distancing in accordance with the guidelines of the Inter Faith Council;

6. THAT, the operations of bars, restaurants and eateries shall continue as guided by the Ministry of Health guidelines, failure to which appropriate action against management, staff, patrons, and premises shall be taken;

7. THAT, National Government Administration Officers are to secure compliance of these directives without fail. Responsibility and consequence for breach shall be borne by the National Government Administration Officers in whose jurisdiction the breach occurs;

8. THAT, in enforcing these measures all security sector agencies are directed to ensure that organizers and/or individual leaders, including senior public sector officials and political leaders take personal responsibility and are held to account for any violation of the measures;

9. THAT, the measures contained herein extend the related containment measures outlined in Public Order No. 4 of 2021 issued vide the 16th Presidential Address of 29th June 2021. All other rules, guidelines, protocols not reviewed through this public order shall continue to apply until otherwise notified.

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