Kenya is set to reopen its airspace for domestic flights, allow religious gatherings and inter-county tourism and travel in a bid to salvage its battered economy, even as the number of Covid-19 infections continue to rise sharply.

President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to review the months-long Covid-19 lockdown measures that are supposed to lapse on July 6, ending more than three months of strict shutdowns of different sectors of the economy.

“We will soon start domestic flights and this is what we will use as our trial in readiness for international travel over the next couple of days,” said President Kenyatta last week, pointing to lifting of a ban on travel into and out of Nairobi and Mombasa, the country’s biggest cities. It is however not clear whether the 9pm to 4am countrywide curfew will be lifted.

The reopening will be guided by protocols put in place in different sectors of the economy.

The tourism sector, which has been hard-hit by the government-imposed restriction on movement, has developed a set of re-opening protocols, which received a stamp of approval from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on July 1.

“I am delighted to announce that Kenya has been listed among the 80 global destinations certified and authorised to use the “World Travel and Tourism Council Safe Travel Stamp” together with our Magical Kenya Logo. This stamp will allow travellers to recognise Kenya as a safe destination once we reopen and implement the health and safety protocols,” said Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala. The protocols seek to ensure service provision meets required guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

They will also ensure a safe experience for visitors.

A 15-member interfaith council chaired by Archbishop Anthony Muheria of the Nyeri Catholic Archdiocese, has been holding deliberations on the protocol for re-opening places of worship.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed last month appointed an 18-member committee to advise on the resumption of sporting activities in the country.

The national government has been pushing county administrations to build capacity of at least 300 ICU beds per county in readiness for the ease in travel restrictions, which is expected to trigger a surge in new cases countrywide.

A progress report last week showed county governments had set up 6,898 isolation beds against the national target of 30,500 units.