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Covid-19: Kenya lifts amnesty on free stay for foreigners

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Kenya has lifted an amnesty stay for foreigners caught up in Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and ordered them to leave the country within 14 days.

A notice from the Immigration Department said all foreigners previously allowed to stay in the country despite expiry of their visas must now leave or apply for residence permits in a fortnight.

The directive means that those whose visas or residence permits expired during the pandemic lockdown will no longer cite the restrictions in order to be allowed to stay.

It also means those whose documents have expired must pay the stipulated fees to renew them or leave the country within 14 days.

When the country issued an amnesty in April, it allowed foreigners to continue staying without paying an extra coin for visa renewals.

“All affected visitors have 14 days to comply with effect from Monday, September 14,” Alex Muteshi, the Director-General of the Department of Immigration Services said in a notice on Monday.

“Failure to take advantage of the above two options, be advised that Section 53[1] of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act [2011] will take effect.”

The law

That law proposes penalties of up to three years in jail or up to Sh500,000 fine for those found in the country illegally. It also allows those with expired documents to be declared prohibited immigrants and deported.

Six months ago, the country imposed a strict lockdown to control the spread of the Coronavirus disease.

The restriction included closure of borders and airspace as well as, initially, intercountry movements to and from Nairobi.

Kenya has since recorded 36,205 cases of whom 23, 067 have recovered and 622 died.

However, the government has been gradually lifting those conditions since July. International flights resumed on August 1, several weeks after local travel was allowed.

The move came after Uganda, the only country in the region that was yet to reopen its main airport, announced it will allow international flights from October 1, albeit under strict public health guidelines for passengers.

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