By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Nairobi, Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday made several key changes to nation’s measures against the Covid-19 pandemic, noting the basic need for personal responsibility if the country is to win a fight that has lasted about six months now.
The President extended the nationwide curfew by 60 days but changed the timings to 11pm-4am effective Tuesday.
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He also lifted the ban on the sale of alcohol by bars and restaurants, much to the delight of members of the public who had long expressed their wishes especially on social media. The order takes effect Tuesday, he said, but noted that the establishments must be closed by 10pm.
The President further raised the maximum number of guests at funerals and weddings from 100 to 200 and said churches can host up to a third of their capacities.
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The Ministry of Health earlier relaxed burial protocols for people who died of Covid-19 in line with the revised World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Public health officials handling the bodies will no longer be required to wear full hazmat suits.
Regarding the schools reopening date, President Kenyatta did not announce a date but noted the need to ensure proper safety precautions are taken.
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As such, he said Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha will announce the calendar once an agreement on safety measures is reached following discussions by all stakeholders.
“Learning institutions should only be reopened when we have and can sufficiently guarantee the safety of all our children. Let us not focus on when schools will reopen but on how they will reopen,” he said.
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It is now unclear when students will return to school even as some neighbouring countries continue to resume learning, based on their caseloads. Among them are Tanzania, Zambia and South Sudan and Uganda that has since okayed only finalists.
As of Monday, Kenya had recorded 38,168 declared cases, including 24,691 recoveries and 700 deaths, according to a statement by Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe said in a statement.
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To cushion individuals and organisations from economic hardships, President Kenyatta asked the Treasury to consider retaining the VAT rate at 14 per cent until July 1, 2021, and the PAYE rate at 25 per cent and resident income (corporate) tax at 25 per cent until January 1, 2021.
“To continue cushioning low-income earners, [I ask] the National Treasury [to] maintain the 100 per cent tax relief for persons earning a gross monthly income of up to Sh24,000 beyond December 31, 2020,” he said.
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Mr Kenyatta further asked the ministry to maintain the reduction of the turnover tax rate from three per cent to one per cent for all SMEs.
President Kenyatta made the announcements following National Covid-19 Conference that took place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.