NAIROBI (Reuters) – A Kenyan court has temporarily halted the government’s plan to require COVID-19 vaccination for access to public services until a petition challenging it is heard and ruled upon, court documents seen by Reuters showed.
Last month Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe announced all residents would have to show proof of vaccination by Dec. 21 to be able access all public services in person.
The requirement affected a range of public services including schools, transport, immigration and other state offices, as well as hotels, bars, restaurants, national parks and wildlife reserves.
On Tuesday however, Antony Mrima, a high court judge in the capital Nairobi, issued a temporary order halting implementation of the mandate pending a legal decision on a petition filed by a Kenyan declaring the move “unconstitutional”.
“Yes, Justice Mrima has halted the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination (requirement),” Harrison Kinyanjui, a lawyer for the petitioner, a businessman, told Reuters.
Directives making vaccination mandatory have split public opinion globally. Some politicians and citizens say such measures infringe on personal choice and others say they serve to protect the public.
Rights group Amnesty International has criticised the Kenyan move as unrealistic and flawed.
Because the East African country still has low vaccination rates, Amnesty said making the shots mandatory would deprive millions of people of their ability to earn a livelihood and access vital services.
(Reporting by Humphrey Malala; writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Mark Heinrich)