Coronavirus: 13 ‘essential service providers’ exempted from curfew

President Uhuru Kenyatta address the nation from State House, Nairobi on March 25, 2020.

The government has exempted 13 “essential service” providers, including the media, from a curfew imposed to control the spread of coronavirus.

Others in the list are health workers, national security, licensed security firms, licensed banks and financial institutions, fire brigade and emergency response services, licensed supermarkets, retail outlets and fuel and power distribution firms.

These groups will be permitted to operate between 7pm and 5am when the curfew is in place.

Media owners had earlier asked the government to categorise media services as essential and asked it to allow media outlets to operate in the event of total lockdown.

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Under the aegis of the Media Owners Association, the media sector players appealed to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to consider the provision of information on the coronavirus pandemic as critical in the fight against the pandemic. They requested that media houses be clustered among essential service providers.

The association, in a letter presented to Mr Kagwe by its chairman Wachira Waruru, requested that its representatives be included in the membership of the National Emergency Response Committee and the Business Emergency Response Centre.

Mr Waruru said the media has been partnering with the government, especially in creating awareness on the pandemic.

He noted that with the situation anticipated to move from bad to worse, and a lockdown likely to be instituted, it would be prudent to retain the media as a partner when it comes to dissemination of information.

“This will enable us to continue with the critical public interest mandate of providing information and educating the public,” said Waruru.

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He added that the pandemic has united the country towards one objective: eradicating the deadly virus.

Waruru said the media has been active in creating awareness to the public across all its platforms. He noted that this has been essential in influencing behaviour change and fighting stigma.

Waruru assured the government that media houses had taken precautionary measures in line with the guidelines issued to the public.

These include observing hygiene at their premises and sensitising their staff, partners, customers and other stakeholders on the importance of social distancing and self-quarantine protocols.

“We have also instituted measures to secure the safety of our teams working from the offices and in the field by equipping them with protective equipment including face masks, hazmat suits, eye-protective gears and protective boots,” Waruru said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday announced several relief measures to Kenyans, among them the reduction of VAT from 16 to 14 per cent.