Dear Hon Mutahi Kagwe Hon Najib Balala
Firstly we appreciate all the efforts you have made as a goverment to deal and face Covid 19 challenges.
As a Tourism player I cant thank you enough for classifying tourism players as front line workers and indeed they are since they clean rooms and handle alot of wet stuff like dirty plates in restaurants etc. We say Asante and rest assured guest contact staff in most establishment we are 100% vaccinated.
My major concern is the recent directive that Kenyans and other visitors will not be allowed entry to public places if they dont show proof of vaccination. I have just seen directive from Kenya Railways implementing that rule come 21st Dec 2021.
The new rules are mainly targeted at travel , hotels and restaurant business which always seem to be the punching bag when it comes to Covid measures.
Firstly let me address a few facts and known knowns.
Fact 1. If you are vaccinated it does NOT mean you cannot be infected or carry the virus. The major benefit of the vaccine is that it will spare someone serious illness like HDU & ICU admission or even death.
Fact 2. With less than 6 Million Kenyans who have had the jab it means majority have not.
Fact 3. With extra 10 Million vaccines it means we are still far below a target of even vaccinating 50% of our population and the slowing of the virus could be attributed to herd immunity as opposed to the vaccine ( please note I am NOT anti vax. I got mine ages ago) in the process I have also managed to convince many Kenyans to take the vaccine.
The new rule is hitting ailing tourism and travel industry right below the belt .
We are already already experiencing cancellations both from local and international travellers.
Your choice of kick off date 21st Dec could not have come at worse time . It is the peak of travel which means many Kenyans would opt NOT to travel.
I have one single question for the two of you…..
What makes you think that a crowd of 300 in a hotel or 40 in a SGR coach or 40 in a restaurant or 14 in a matatu or 120 on a 45 minute flight stand a higher chance to contract Covid as opposed to all the political rallies happening around us ?
Just look at the thousands of people attending rallies by presidential aspirants William Ruto , Raila Odinga Musalia Mudavadi , Kalonzo Musyoka + Oka brigade. Kenyans show up in their thousands packed like sardines day in day out but you expect them to display their Covid vaccine certificate when the same Kenyans opt to visit their small eatery for a quick meal or take the SGR or a Matatu.
- Please suspend this directive, it is killing the small gains we have made as tourism and travel industry. I dont want to come across as rude but I dare say it serves NO purpose.
- SGR travel and current measures are already tiring enough insisting for travellers to display Covid vaccine certificate is indeed pointless at this stage when you look at all the political rallies where they have even disregarded the basic Covid 19 protocols.
- International travel to Kenya is even worse….in addition to a PCR test you now want a Covid 19 vaccination certificate. Please keep things simple and neat and focus on PCR test which in itself is already tedious enough . If at all vaccine is to count then anyone fully vaccinated should be spared the PCR test but in light of new South African variant we can retain the PCR test . You see we are reasonable Kenyans. Zanzibar next door is laughing at us as we continue shooting ourselves in the foot.
- Please we need to see more campaigns in encouraging Kenyans to take the jab.
Where are the bill boards?
Where are the radio and tv ads?
Where are the wazee wa mtaa leading the campaign?
We should see strong campaign in the vernacular radio stations. Where are religious leaders pushing for the jab?
Finally taking the vaccines, we can achieve more through persuasion as opposed to coercion. Please use more of the carrot as opposed to the stick. Taking a vaccine is a very personal thing , it is about personal health. In light of the conspiracy theories and fake news there is bound to be resistance. Even first world we have families that have refused to take the vaccine and even those who have taken they are joining the rest in street demos since it infringes on personal right to make a choice hence some demos have turned violent.
Then you equally need to be RUTHLESS on those medics busy selling fake Covid19 certificates with genuine papers at Ksh 1000. That is where your focus should be and not trying to coerce and push Kenyans to take the jab.
If it is spread of the virus please we urge you not to overly focus on hotels and travel, we follow the Covid19 protocols to the letter. You could be more safer in our hotels than your own offices.
Please focus on the basics, wearing of masks is now alien, hand washing stations ( this is something Afya house ought to adopt countrywide Covid or no Covid). Handwashing has really helped to deal with common flu and other pathogens.
Please I beseech you , please allow us to breathe. Please rescind that call since that move alone is slowly closing the window of opportunity that was coming our way. Tourism and travel is not your weakest link , we are your strongest link but it so happens that we are always treated as suspect No 1.
As always I choose to remain an optimist that reason and sensibility shall prevail. Please rescind the 21st Dec call now since cancellations will flow like confetti in coming weeks. Dont wait too long in the day when the damage has been done.