No dining just yet after new tough rules out for eateries

Restaurants or eateries will not re-open before being inspected afresh and issued with a special permit to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Directorate of Public Health has clarified that the directive to re-open eateries and restaurants as issued by the President on Monday, was not automatic.

“You are not supposed to open until the restaurant has been inspected. In the guidelines, you will have to apply for a new permit,” said Dr Francis Kuria during the daily Covid-19 update given by Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman.

Kuria said no restaurant or eatery is supposed to be admitting clients just yet. He explained that the guidelines are meant to reinforce the already existing ones on public health.

In the guidelines announced by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Monday, all staff who will be recalled to work should be tested for Covid-19 and certified to be negative.

“You must provide evidence that the staff have been tested,” said Kuria.

The ministry directed that the sitting arrangement in restaurants should be 1.5 metres distance between customers.

This should allow only four customers in a 10 square space.

The restaurants should also install contact free thermometers, running water and soap for hand washing at the entrance and exit of the establishment.

All staff and clients should wear a mask while entering and the establishment.

Restaurants will not be allowed to serve salads or buffet.

Once these requirements have been met, Kuria said, the owner of the establishment should apply for inspection by downloading a form from the Ministry of Health website.

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A team of officials from the respective county health department will inspect the restaurant before a license is issued.

“We do ask for patience as we inspect so that you can get the license,” he said adding that the ministry is working on more guidelines which will dictate how other sectors of the economy will re-open.

Dr Aman said the government will re-open other businesses progressively.

“We need to strike a fine balance so that we do not compromise the gains made from the containment measures,” he said.

While large restaurants and eateries have been allowed to use private laboratories to test their staff before re-opening, Aman warned that only molecular tests are permissible.

Ideally to Covid-19 test is carried out using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) molecular tests or Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) also known as serological tests.

While the methods can tell if someone has the virus, the first-PCR-checks for the virus while the second detects antibodies against the virus. The advantage of the latter is that it is less expensive and takes less time –about 10 minutes.

Aman clarified that RDT tests are not permissible in the country.

“As of now, the tests we use to diagnose Covid-19 is molecular which detects the virus in the RNA (a molecule in one’s genes). We have a number who are interested to have their RDT approved and registered in the country but as at now, we have not approved them,” said Aman. During the update yesterday, the CAS said the country has recorded 11 new Covid-19 cases bringing the total number to 374 while recoveries now stand at 124 after 10 more patients were discharged.

The death toll is still 14. Among the new cases- seven are from Nairobi and four from Mombasa. The cases included two children aged three.

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