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US downgrades travel alert to Kenya

The United States has downgraded Kenya’s travel advisory to Level Two, down from Level Four, adjusting travel guidance for vaccinated Americans in the process.

In a notice dated June 8, the US urged its citizens to exercise increased caution in Kenya due to Covid-19, crime, terrorism, health issues, and kidnapping.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Kenya due to Covid-19, indicating a moderate level of Covid-19 in the country,” the notice states.

Under the Level 4 classification, Washington had urged its citizens not to travel to Kenya after the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raised alarm over a spike in Covid-19 cases.

The department warned Americans against traveling to the Kenya-Somalia border (Mandera, Garissa, and Wajir counties) and some coastal areas (Tana River, Lamu, and north of Malindi) due to terrorism.

“Terrorist attacks have occurred with little or no warning, targeting Kenyan and foreign government facilities, tourist locations, transportation hubs, hotels, resorts, markets/shopping malls, and places of worship.  Terrorist acts have included armed assaults, suicide operations, bomb/grenade attacks, and kidnappings.”

They are further required not to travel to areas of Turkana County (Road from Kainuk to Lodwar) due to banditry.

Americans were also asked to reconsider travel to the Nairobi neighborhoods of Eastleigh and Kibera at all times due to crime and kidnapping.

“Violent crime, such as armed carjacking, mugging, home invasion, and kidnapping, can occur at any time. Local police are willing but often lack the capability to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents and terrorist attacks.  Emergency medical and fire service is also limited,” it added.

The update comes as a huge relief to tourism stakeholders as it raises their hope for more international visitors this year, many of who had avoided travelling to Kenya since the onset of Covid-19 in the country last year.

Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) chairperson Mohammed Hersi termed the downgrading of Kenya from Level four to Level two as a boost for the industry.

“Our hard work is certainly paying off. Happy to note that the USA has removed Kenya from Level 4 to Level 2 which is a good move for the travel and tourism trade. This is positive for the tourism business,” Hersi said through Twitter.