Uganda Airports and Borders to Reopen for Tourists
Uganda airports and borders to reopen for tourists, as directed by the president of Uganda. Uganda airports and borders to reopen for tourists is one of the key points addressed yesterday 20th September 2020 by President Museveni during his address to the country in regards to Covid-19. The president of Uganda directed Uganda airports and borders to reopen for tourists in a bid to revive the tourism industry in the country which had been greatly impacted with the restrictions imposed.
It should be remembered that Entebbe International Airport and all borders or points of entry into Uganda from neighbouring countries like the Republic of Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya were all closed in March when Uganda reported its first Covid-19 positive cases. They have since been closed, so as to prevent the spread and importation of Covid-19 from travellers most especially from countries that were a hotspot. Before the complete closure of Entebbe International Airport for passenger planes, there were restrictions on entry for travellers from highly infected countries that were referred to as category 1 countries that included among others China and Italy. Less than a week later, Entebbe International Airport was completely closed to passenger flights and only cargo planes were allowed.
With the presidential address last night, passenger planes are allowed entry into the country thereby reopening tourism in Uganda. Travellers will be required to present valid PCR test results showing that they are negative of Covid-19. Travellers shall have to test negative at least 72 hours before arrival. Upon arrival into the country, tourists do not need to be tested again if they do present the negative results; they will instead be transferred to their respective hotels or lodges or destinations as per their travel itinerary or plan. Tour operators are however to ensure that tourists do not mix with Ugandans so as to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Asides from testing negative at least 72 hours before arrival at Entebbe International Airport or any borders of points of entry into the country, tourists shall have to wear face masks at all times while in public places.
Having Uganda airports and borders to reopen for tourists comes after all national parks and tourist sites were reopened to the general public and domestic tourism was greatly welcomed by Ugandans given that different facilities tourist stakeholders gave different discounts so as to encourage them. The reopening of tourist destinations was done in phases that saw savannah parks being the first to be reopened with primate parks being closed for fear that the coronavirus disease would be acquired by the primates like gorillas since they are very susceptible to human infections. The Uganda Wildlife Authority released a statement on 3rd September 2020 which had all national parks being opened for tourism, including primate parks like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which has had a baby boom during the lockdown, Kibale Forest National Park, as well as Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which also welcomed baby additions in the Nyakagezi gorilla family.
Reopening tourism completely comes with the condition that tourist facilities like hotels, restaurants, airports, among others adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures put in place by the Ministry of Health for the containment and prevention of spread of Covid-19. Some of the Standard Operating Procedures that ought to be adhered to by both tourists and tourism service providers some as listed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) include but are not limited to;
- Mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the key tourism gates or points of entry of the protected areas, including airports and other points of entry into the country.
- Mandatory hand washing or sanitising facilities at the entrances of all UWA premises and protected areas
- All tourists and service providers are to wear face masks while inside the protected areas, at all times
- Social distance observation, especially in restaurants, lounges and waiting areas say at the airport.
- Tourists going for primate tracking activities should carry at least two (2) N95 masks or surgical masks or even double layered cloth masks with filters. This is to protect the already endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees among others.
- Carrying half sitting capacity by all tourist vehicles, boats and other motor machines should be adhered to as guided by government. This is so in order to emphasise the social distancing directive and guideline.
- Visitors are encouraged to carry their own hand sanitizers that they can use after touching surfaces like doorknobs or tables much as they are cleaned and disinfected regularly.
With the above Standard Operating Procedures, tourists should be sure to have a safe safari experience where they can still do the activities that they love most including among others, gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking, game viewing while on game drives, boat safaris say on the beautiful Kazinga Channel, bird watching, and cultural encounters.
Entebbe International Airport is scheduled to restart operations fully on 1st October 2020, barely two weeks from today. Tourists are therefore encouraged to schedule their dates as well as start planning for when they can visit Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. The directive to have Uganda airports and borders to reopen to tourists is a welcome one for tourism will restart, thereby thriving again soon thus positively impacting the locals and the government great again. Take time to reach out to your tour operator of choice and have your Uganda safari planned out for you and be rewarded with great and memorable experiences.