Uganda has opened its borders for international tourists, a measure many have termed as a very welcome move.
On 30th March this year, Uganda stopped all passengers coming into the country by air, land or water which affected in-coming planes, buses, taxis and boats.
The government also closed Entebbe International Airport and all other border points of entry except for Cargo aeroplanes and trucks. The announcement of this total lockdown and restricted movement meant that even tourism activities had been halted.
However, in his address to the nation yesterday, President Yoweri Museveni announced the opening of the Entebbe International Airport and land borders for tourists.
“The International Airport and Land borders will now be opened for tourists, coming in and going out, provided they tested negative for COVID 19 72 hours before arrival in Uganda and provided the tour operators ensure that the tourists do not mix with the Ugandans.
“How will this be done? The tourists will be driven straight from the Airport to their destinations or to designated transit hotels that are set aside for that purpose. Business delegations should also be handled in the same way by the Local Partners.
“The returning Ugandans, who have negative PCR results, will be allowed to go home. The Ministry of Health will only get their addresses for follow up,” said Museveni.
Effective October 1st 2020, tourists will be allowed to jet into Entebbe International Airport, provided they tested negative for COVID 19, 72 hours before arrival in Uganda.
The President, however, said the tourists will travel directly to their destinations or designated hotels without mixing with the community. Hotels are also allowed to operate as agreed in observance of the Standard Operational Procedures (SOP’s).
“Restaurants shall continue to operate with limited patrons preferably on a takeaway/to-go or delivery basis. Open-air activities of sports will re-open provided there are no spectators and the players are tested for Covid-19, 72 hours before.
“This test will expire in 14 days. Hence, the Sportsmen will have to repeat the test. Sportsmen and women should remember that masks should not be worn when you are engaged in strenuous exercises. With tournaments, teams should be quarantined for the whole season of the competition.
“Indoor sports activities, including gyms, remain closed. Why? It is because the virus spreads more in enclosed spaces. Casinos, gaming centres and cinemas remain closed. Why? It is because those activities are in enclosed spaces and are not compatible with social distancing.
“Bars shall remain closed. Why? It is because bars, apart from many of them being in enclosed spaces, which phenomenon favours the rapid spread of the virus, are not known for sobriety and lack of sobriety is not compatible with health safety through the observance of the health SOPs.
“Hotels will continue operating following the SOPs agreed with the Ministry of Health. Restaurants should continue to emphasize takeaways. Indoor restaurant services should be minimized and follow the SOPs,” said Museveni while opening up the major tourists’ activities.
The bi-annual traditional circumcision custom practised by the Bamasaba tribe that hails from the slopes of Mt.Elgon has been allowed. They shall carry out their rites provided that they follow the agreed SOP’s as agreed with the Ministry of Health. Their animated ’embalu ‘dance procession also known as ‘kadodi ‘shall not be allowed to continue because in the words of the President,’ that is dangerous congregating’.
“Our Bamasaaba grandchildren that are engaged in Imbalu in these months, have SOPs from the Ministry of Health that were agreed with the Cultural Institution.
“There should be no processions dancing Kadodi – that is dangerous congregating. The Security forces, especially the Police, should monitor those activities. Cases of Covid-19 have gone up in Mbale recently. They are now 107 and 5 deaths have occurred in that area,” said Museveni.
BY PAUL TENTENA