Reprieve for restaurants as government lowers COVID-19 testing charges

Restaurant and eatery owners found relief after the government eased requirements for the reopening of the joints.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has announced that the government had lowered COVID-19 testing fee from the initial Ksh 4000 to Ksh 1000 for hotel and restaurant workers.

Balala said that the government took the move after many hotels and restaurants failed to reopen despite being given the go-ahead by the Ministry of health.

He said that lowering the testing charges will allow the majority of workers within the hotel industry to undergo the testing and allow reopening of the critical sector.

The Minister said that the move to push for reopening of restaurants was a step towards jump-starting the economy.

He, however, noted that hotels will not be allowed to offer boarding facilities and that only those dealing with food will be allowed to reopen.

Many restaurants had remained closed weeks after the government announced their reopening with many investors lamenting of the high cost of COVID-19 testing.

The hotels had been directed to facilitate their workers to undergo the test before resuming work.

Balala also said that hotels will not be charged for inspections to be carried out by the county government health officials before reopening

There will also be no charges for compliance certificates to be issued to restaurants before being cleared to reopen.


CS Najib Balala halts construction at Hells Gate National Park

Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Hon. Najib Balala yesterday suspended the construction that has been ongoing inside the Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha.

The construction by Idyllic Mistley House has been ongoing for some time raising queries from residents. Idyllic Mistley House is a retreat centre based in Kiambu.

The news of the suspension was made public through a press release from the ministry on Friday.

“Hon. Najib Balala, EGH, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, following a site visit to Hells Gate National Park accompanied by a team of senior Kenya Wildlife Service, has today suspended the construction of Adventure Sports Park by Idyllic Mistley House in Hells Gate National Park,” read part of the press release.

In the presser, CS Najib Balala further directed Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), to interdict three of its senior officers involved in the day to day management of the park. The officers will be subjected to investigations to find out the circumstances leading to the construction within the premier National Park in Nakuru County.

Najib Balala also broke the news in a tweet from his official Twitter account.

According to Balala, the KWS Board of Trustees granted a provisional letter of commitment subject to a feasibility study, EIA within the provision of EMCA 2012. Construction was to be done at old staff camp, structures had to be eco-friendly and had to have environmental mitigation plans and be approved by KWS.

However, Idyllic Mistley House is said to have irregularly started the project construction without meeting the conditions stipulated.

Idyllic Mistley House has also been directed to stop all activity within the park and leave immediately.

Kenyans who had raised concerns about the construction within the park have praised CS Najib Balala for the action. However, some are wondering how the investors gained access into the park in the first place and construction begun.

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