#PulsePicks2020: 10 changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya

Covid-19 has changed how Kenyans live

Kenyan citizens wearing masks in public following a government order

The year 2020 will be remembered mostly because of the Covid-19 disease which originated in Wuhan, China and quickly became a global pandemic.

Kenya reported its first Covid-19 case on March 13, 2020, one Ivy Brenda Cherotich who had arrived back to the country after a trip abroad.

Following the discovery of the first case, the National Emergency Covid-19 Response Committee was formed and the government begun to announce a raft of measures to contain the deadly virus.

The top 10 changes that occurred in Kenya as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic include:-

  • Closure of all learning institutions

On March 15, 2020 President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the closure of all learning institutions in the Republic of Kenya.

The schools would remain closed for the rest of the year resulting in the loss of the academic year for learners including those who were scheduled to sit for national examinations such as KCPE and KCSE.

Digital and virtual learning became a widely accepted form of keeping up with learning. A change from the physical to the virtual classroom for many Kenyan students.

  • Cessation of movement

The Coronavirus pandemic saw travel restrictions imposed on counties such as Nairobi, Mandera, Garissa and Wajir.

A cessation of movement order was passed in April 2020 and would later be lifted by the President in July 2020.

Nairobi's Eastleigh area and Mombasa's Old Town were also placed in lockdown after a spike in cases at the time.

  • Curfew

Kenya was put on a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew on March 25, 2020.

At first the curfew was effected between 7 pm and 5 am and would later be reviewed to 9 pm to 4 am, again to between 11 pm and 4 am and by the end of the year the curfew was taking place between 10 pm and 4 am.

  • Closure of places of worship and ban on social gatherings

As part of the containment measures announced by the government, restrictions were placed on social gatherings.

Places of worship and recreation were ordered to close.

Weddings, funerals and other social gatherings were limited to only 15 persons. The change was received with criticism and condemnation.

As the year drew to a close, the measures were relaxed.

  • Working from Home

Many Kenyan organizations embraced the "work from home" model as Kenyans were encouraged to stay at home to avoid contracting the virus.

  • Handwashing stations and Sanitization booths

Nationwide, any public space and building has been forced to ensure there is either a handwashing station or a sanitizer stand to encourage hygiene measures.

  • Tax relief measures/mobile money transactions rates

In a bid to encourage cashless transactions, mobile money transfer platforms abolished transaction costs for any amount below Sh1,000.

President Kenyatta also announced tax relief measures for P.A.Y.E. which saw many salary-earning Kenyans have a slight increase in their income.

  • Wearing masks

By the end of 2020, it was a crime for any Kenyan to walk in public without a face mask.

Government offices also instituted a "No mask, No service" policy after many state organizations witnessed a spike in infections among staff members.

  • Matatu carrying capacity

Another measure announced in 2020 was a reduction in the number of passengers carried by Public Service Commission (PSC).

All vehicles were ordered to carry a maximum of 60% capacity as a containment measure.

  • Social Distancing

All shared public spaces now have markings to indicate the minimum 1.5 metres social distancing measure.

Scientists recommended the personal distance to avoid spread of the virus.

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