Police officers implementing recently announced Covid-19 rules have been dealt a blow after the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) rejected charge sheets for people arrested flouting Covid-19 containment protocol in Isiolo citing a lacuna in the law.
The 24 individuals were arrested on Monday for not wearing face masks as directed by government in its efforts to contain the spread of the contagious disease.
However, police officers could not arraign them as the DPP declined to register the charge sheets.
The police had indicated that the individuals were to be charged for not wearing masks, contrary to Section 6 (1) b of the Public Health Act and the Covid-19 Restrictions of movement of persons.
But the ODPP insisted that the gazetted law only applied in the previous hotspot areas of Nairobi, Mombasa, Mandera, Kilifi and Kwale.
According to Isiolo County Commissioner Herman Shambi, the ODPP’s action will curtail police efforts to ensure full compliance of Covid-19 guidelines hence increased risk of infection.
“It is really affecting our work because our officers are being forced to release the suspects which could make residents unruly for knowing that no legal action will be taken against them,” said Mr Shambi.
He added, “Our people must observe the guidelines if the battle against the deadly disease is to be won.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta last week issued stricter measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease as many cases continue to be confirmed every day.
In a state of the nation address on Wednesday, the President directed that all bars and restaurants close by 9pm as part of efforts to flatten the Covid-19 curve. He also reviewed curfew hours from 11pm-4am to 10pm-4am.
Police were directed to enforce all Covid-19 protocols including mandatory wearing of face masks without fear or favour.
Those found contravening the guidelines, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said, will be fined Sh20,000 on the spot.
Thousands were arrested over the weekend in various parts of the country for flouting the rules with police saying they would be arraigned in court to face the full force of the law.