At the end of March, President Uhuru Kenyatta stopped movement into and out of five counties, including the capital Nairobi, to forestall a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.
This led to a drop in private business activity in April. Kenyatta lifted the restrictions on the five regions in early May.
The Markit Stanbic Bank Kenya Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 52.5 in May from 41.5 in April. The 50.0 mark separates growth from contraction.
"Business conditions in the Kenyan private sector recovered partially in May, after tightened measures on travel and curfew led to a steep contraction in April," Stanbic said in comments accompanying the survey.
The survey respondents said during the month, there was an increase in the number of new jobs created.
"As expected, the lifting of public health restrictions at the beginning on May resulted in a significant improvement in business activity in May. Fewer restrictions resulted in higher demand as indicated by the rise in new orders," Kuria Kamau, Fixed Income and Currency Strategist at Stanbic Bank, said.
(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Toby Chopra)