Uganda Reopens Borders October 1 With New Safety Measures

(Dennis Wegewijs/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

As of October 1, Uganda’s borders have reopened, and Entebbe International Airport has resumed operations for international airlines following a six-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 & Tourism Council’s “Safe Travels” global safety and 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. 

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 administered. Results will be provided within 24 to 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 five feet within the terminals will be enforced. Access will be barred to those without a face mask.

National Parks Protocols

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. In addition, handwashing 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 six-and-a-half feet between tourists. Tourists are now required to stay a minimum of 32 feet away from primates.

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