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The re-opening of Uganda’s borders – here’s what you need to know

As of 1st October 2020, Uganda’s borders have reopened, and Entebbe International Airport (EBB) has resumed operations for international airlines following a 6-month closure during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of Uganda’s national parks are open to international visitors as well. The reopening signals a return to business for Uganda’s tourism industry as international travelers are permitted to enter the country for leisure and business travel. In reopening, the government of Uganda is committed to providing a safe and sanitary tourism experience for visitors while maintaining the health of the Ugandan people and the country’s wildlife population. Uganda has received the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Global Safety & Hygiene Stamp for complying with globally standardized health and hygiene protocol, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), tour operators, hotels, and lodges, are adhering to strict standard operating procedures pertaining to the international tourism experience, as detailed below. Airport arrivals and departures Uganda has initiated new airport procedures in accordance with guidelines from the International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. Every passenger must arrive with a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test certificate for a test conducted within 72 hours prior to arrival in Uganda. Airlines have been instructed not to board any passengers coming to Uganda without a negative PCR COVID-19 test. Any passenger without a negative PCR test will not be allowed to enter the country and must return to their point of origin via the same airline. On arrival, all passengers will undergo a health screening including a temperature check and assessment for other signs of infectious diseases. Screenings will be conducted by the Port Health Team supported by the Ministry of Health. Any passenger who shows signs and symptoms of an infectious disease on arrival will be taken to a waiting ambulance and transferred to an isolation center at the Entebbe Hospital where infectious disease checks and a COVID-19 test will be Results will be provided within 24-48 hours as the passenger remains in the isolation center. If a passenger tests positive for COVID-19, the passenger will be taken to a dedicated COVID-19 treatment center for a two-week quarantine. Passengers leaving Uganda must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test done within 72 hours before boarding. Passengers are advised to arrive at the airport at least four hours before departure to allow for security and health screenings. Mandatory use of masks and social distancing of 5 feet within the terminals will be enforced. Access will be barred to those without a face mask. National parks Mandatory temperature screenings using non-contact infra-red thermometers will be conducted by UWA representatives at key tourism gates. Visitors, staff, and trackers will have their temperature checked at every briefing point for gorilla and chimpanzee tracking. The use of mandatory face masks while inside all national parks will be enforced. Travelers participating in primate trekking must carry at least two N95 masks, surgical masks, or double layered cloth masks with filters to ensure single use for each day of visitation. The masks should cover the nose and mouth at all times. Hand washing and sanitizing at all entrances to national parks and protected areas is mandatory and will be enforced. Visitors without masks or who do not abide by handwashing and sanitization measures will not be permitted to enter the national parks or protected areas. Vehicles and boats within Uganda’s national parks will operate at half capacity in accordance with government social distancing guidelines. Social distancing is enforced. During primate trekking, UWA guides will ensure there is a minimum of 6.5 feet between tourists. Tourists are now required to stay a minimum of 32 feet away from primates About Uganda Known as the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda is located in East Africa and offers some of the continent’s most diverse wildlife viewing, dramatic landscapes, and immersive cultural experiences. Uganda is home to more than half the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas, and trekking to observe these gentle giants in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the world’s top “bucket list” travel activities. Safari opportunities abound in savanna, forest, and wetland settings throughout 10 national parks, where visitors can come face to face with “The Big Five” – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo – as well as giraffe, zebra, chimpanzee, hippopotamus, crocodile, and more than half of all bird species found in Africa. Among Uganda’s extraordinary natural attractions are the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains; expansive Lake Victoria, which forms the source of the Nile River; and Murchison Falls National Park.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Many people are coming to the conclusion that we will have to live with Covid – 19 for some time before we defeat it with a vaccine.

    I can’t understand why more countries and airlines don’t adopt Uganda’s policy of requiring evidence of a negative Covid test prior to flying. Firm policies like these should help the Ugandan tourist industry to recover.

  2. At last some signs of hope. A lot of us, me included, are getting very tetchy without our usual fix of travel. I never knew how much some of us depend on our regular escapes from the boring daily routine. And could there be any better escape than Uganda’s national parks?

  3. The Ugandan government is taking decisions and sticking to them. Using masks is “mandatory” and social distancing in the terminals will be “enforced”. There’s a lot of whining going on about governments attacking people’s fights in many western countries. I’d happily give up these freedoms in return for being able to travel safely.

  4. Uganda is indeed on the path to full time recovery in the tourism sector, all borders have been opened. Final Investment Decision (FID) regarding oil exploration has been signed off there has never been a better time to travel and explore the beauty of Uganda.

  5. Reopening Entebbe airport was the beginning of the rebirth of tourism in Uganda. For luxury travel in Uganda, gorillaafrica.com were the Pamoja safaris Uganda to benefit in the first opening.

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