#COVID19 REGULATION ANNOUNCEMENTS OFFER BOTH UP AND DOWN FOR UGANDA’S TOURISM SECTOR
(Posted 23rd June 2020)
Travel into and out of Uganda will for the time being continue to be restricted to medical emergencies, according to details revealed in a presidential address last evening.
This prompted immediate demands by the country’s tourism industry to replace such open ended announcements with more detailed information, when the international airport in Entebbe will be reopened for passenger flights and the publication of requirements for travelers coming to Uganda in regard of preventing the spread of #COVID19. It was pointed out to ATCNews by regular readers from Kampala, that any quarantine demands on arriving passengers, other than returning Ugandans, will be creating unacceptable travel conditions for leisure travelers and most business travelers too, when in contrast in neighbouring Rwanda and in particular in Tanzania completely different sets of rules are applied.
Notably though were restrictions lifted for movement into and out of a number of border districts, which were deemed not to be at high risk for the spread of the virus by people crossing into the country via unauthorized routes.
This will now open up once again domestic travel to national parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park, Rwenzori Mountain National Park, the Semliki National Park and the Semliki Game Reserve, which were previously inaccessible for domestic travel. The same applies for travel to Bwindi National Park and Mgahinga National Park and locations like Lake Mutande near Kisoro though primate tourism remains closed until further notice, unlike in Rwanda where primate tracking is once again available under added precautions.
Passenger vehicles in Uganda can now transport as many as 4 people, including driver, but all occupants must wear face masks, applicable even when only the driver is in the car.
Boda Boda operations carrying passengers continue to be prohibited as the Ugandan government judges the risk of potential transmissions as too high, toward which end the President said: ‘This is on account of the elements that come through the porous borders. Since many people end up in Kampala and with the opening of the public transport system, although with some restrictions, we are beginning to see cases in Kampala. The number is now 37.
We are, therefore, entering a more dangerous phase. Previously, the problem was from the returnees from abroad, from the drivers and from those who pass through the porous borders from the neighbouring countries. However, with the re-opening of the public transport and the movement of private cars, we are beginning to get cases of people who are positive but whose source of infection you cannot easily trace. If somebody picked the infection in a bus or a taxi where people were not observing the SOPs, how will you easily trace those who were in the bus or taxi with him or her?‘
Hawking of goods in the streets, open food vending, salon operations and ‘mobile markets’ will equally remain closed down, as will schools and institutions of higher learning. Churches, temples and mosques too will remain closed for common worship until the pandemic situation improves.
Another source of agitated comments was the retention of the 19.00 hrs to 06.30 hrs curfew, which was described by regular commentators as arbitrary, lacking a sense of reality and prone to selective enforcement by authorities. Allegations were made that ordinary Ugandans in ordinary cars or on foot face the brunt of the 7 pm enforcement while flashy four wheel drive cars, often fitted with blue and red flashing lights under the front grill, were let off scot free.
Suggestions included to have, like in neighbouring Kenya, a more user friendly curfew time like from 10 or 11 pm to 5 am in the morning.
Once any changes are made, will ATCNews as usual report the updates.