Earlier in the year, the country fell into an unusual silence. Schools, bars, restaurants, churches and offices were closed; huge chunks of the population were confined to their homes as we sought to understand the Covid-19 virus and its characteristics. With the lock down came new rules, hand washing, cough etiquette, masking up, self-isolation and masking up all new ways communicated to stem the spread of the virus.
For many, confinement into homes sprung up talk of cabin fever, people itched to go out but these are no ordinary days. When President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the restrictions, a semblance of normalcy resumed and among the caveats enforced was adherence to social distancing. Public transport, restaurants, offices and numerous shared spaces had to adhere to new laws and while it has been hard to fully implement, we have had individuals and institutions that have successfully enforced social distancing.
Dagii a route manager for Embassava Sacco our route has been a stickler for the rules when it comes to passenger capacity, our vehicles are carrying half capacity but we have a responsibility to ensure we keep our staff and passengers safe. Operators have accepted to adapt the new normal, reduce the sitting capacity, and separate all seats to allow every passenger to sit alone in line with the ministry of health rules. The new arrangement also allows operators to uphold hygiene standards and undertake fumigation with ease. The SGR and airlines have equally done a great job in enforcing social distancing protocols, passengers are kept safe and their waiting facilities, trains and planes are kept clean and safe for use.
Hotels, banks, customer service areas, lifts are also keeping people socially distanced. Most banking halls are using queue management systems while limiting the number of people allowed at any one time. Restaurants too are balancing staying afloat and adhering to the rules and while the interpretation of minimum distance varies, many have opened up socially distanced spaces in their dining areas. Both private and public hospitals have also effectively restricted the number of people visiting patients.
Of great concern were how schools would manage and with only Grade 4, Class 8 and Form 4 students in school class sizes have been shrunk, dorm spaces expanded to ensure the students remain safe. Lessons learnt above show it is possible to enforce social distancing in enclosed spaces, however it cannot be done in isolation and people should observe the other anti Covid-19 protocols to give them an extra layer of safety when in public. Sanitizing and wearing masks should remain high on our to do list as we also audibly voice our concerns where violations and adherence are noticed; staying silent when matatus overload makes us part of the problem and we need to be proactive in speaking up.