Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), has made swift U-turn and added eight countries, including the US, the United Arab Emirates and the UK, to a list of those whose nationals are allowed unrestricted entry after international flights resumed Saturday.
According to businessdailyafrica.com, a circular issued by Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) on Friday said citizens of countries on the expanded list of 19 countries will be allowed entry without having to go into forced quarantine.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia on Thursday named 11 countries on the safe flights list and did not mention the option of quarantine for those excluded from the roll.
The other additions are European countries such as Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands, and Qatar in the Middle East.
Tanzania is still missing from the updated list despite Kenya insisting it has settled the diplomatic dispute arising from the earlier one, which prompted Dar es Salaam to ban Kenya Airways from its airports.
“All arriving passengers on international flights whose body temperatures is not above 37.5 degrees Celsius… and 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 exempted from quarantine,” said KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe in reference to the updated list.
Travellers arriving from three states in the US – California, Florida and Texas – will be subjected to the mandatory quarantine of 14 days. The three states all reported large rises in fatalities in recent days, raising new concerns about the severity of the wave of infections that has swept across the populous US sunbelt region.
California, Florida and Texas together account for one-quarter of the total US population.
A total of more than 150,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The earlier Kenyan flights list had only China among the top 10 nations that accounted for most of the tourists to Kenya last time, dealing a blow to Kenya’s tourism and Kenya Airways.
Kenya Airways resumed international flights on Saturday, heading to about 30 destinations for the first time since the routes were suspended in March due to the coronavirus.
The carrier, which lost about Sh10 billion in the six months to June, resumed domestic flights in mid-July after the government cleared local air travel.
Africa and Europe, however, accounted for 78.3 per cent of the Sh127.6 billion sales the airline reported in the year to December.
Travellers coming from only five African countries—Uganda, Ethiopia, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Namibia—are exempted from mandatory quarantine.
The exclusion of people from most US states and top European countries from quarantine is likely to boost Kenya’s tourism sector, which lost Sh80 billion, about half of last year’s total, due to the coronavirus crisis.
The sector is one of the leading sources of foreign exchange, earning Sh163.56 billion last year, which had been expected to grow one per cent in 2020.
Tourism contributes 10 per cent of Kenya’s annual economic output and employs over two million people.
The US, Britain, Germany, France and Italy—which were all excluded in the Thursday list—brought in 791, 141 tourists to Kenya last year or 39.5 per cent of the two million travellers.