Kenya Resumes International Passenger Flights Under Tight Covid-19 Rules

Nairobi — Kenya resumed international flights on Saturday under tight COVID-19 regulations.

Passengers interviewed said they were happy with conditions introduced by airlines.

Several flights were seen landing and taking off for the better part of Saturday.

The first flight, to Ethiopia, left the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 4.05am while the first to arrive in the country from Kigali touched down at 11.30am, officials said.

Speaking to Capital News Beat, James Oramba who arrived in Kenya from Rwanda said the passengers had to strictly wear their masks throughout the flight and fill in all necessary documentation upon departure and after arrival.

"With this coronavirus, things are really different and there are many restrictions. All of us were required to wear masks and sanitize. We also had to fill different documents but I am glad and happy that the airlines are prioritizing the safety of the passengers and the crew," Oramba said.

Christopher Obiro who also arrived from Kigali, Rwanda says a COVID-19 free certificate is a mandatory requirement and no one was allowed to board the Kenya Airways Flight without the certificate.

"One of the major requirement that I noticed was asked for before and after the flight was the coronavirus free certificate so I got mine from Rwandan doctors and there is also another clearance that we were given by the Rwandan authorities," said Obiro.

Kenya had initially listed China, Canada, South Korea, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda, Morocco, Japan, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Switzerland as the only countries cleared to fly in passengers.

But on Friday, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia updated the list to include the US (except for Carlifornia, Florida and Texas), UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Qatar, UAE and Italy "following further review and consultation between the Cabinet Secretaries responsible for Transport, Health and Tourism."

"Review of countries from which travelers will not be required to be quarantined upon arrival will be undertaken by the Ministry of Health on day to day basis," Macharia said.

Kenya's airspace has remained closed since late March, soon after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country.

"We wish to emphasize and reiterate that from August 1, Kenyan airspace will be open to authorised airlines and travelers," Macharia said.

Passengers on international flights whose body temperature is not above 37.5 degrees Celcius (99.5F) do not have a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing or other flue-like symptoms, have negative PCR based COVID-19 test carried out within 96 hours before travel and are from countries considered low to medium risk COVID-19 transmission areas shall be exempt from quarantine.

Macharia said the list of countries and regulations will be reviewed from time to time.

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