Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)
Travel in the New Normal−Measures & Guidelines.
Uganda Coronavirus travel standard operating procedures (COVID-19 SOP’s) have been put in place, as this infectious Coronavirus disease appears to be slowing down, and there is hope that a cure will be seen based on the current medical information circulating. As of August/13/2020, Uganda has 12 recorded COVID-19 deaths. There have also been 1,385 recorded coronavirus cases and 1,142 cases have now fully recovered.
Entebbe International Airport is still closed to incoming and outgoing commercial flights. This may soon change as Uganda is slowly lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Uganda Safari destinations like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and others are also still closed off to international interest.
But as the world continues to ease into leisure travel, Uganda will soon invite you to enjoy the ultimate safari experience, and your tour to Uganda has never been more welcome and needed than it is now.
As you are planning your travel to Uganda, we advise that you read up on the current developments/Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that will be observed on your safari in Uganda as we switch to the new normal post-COVID-19 World.
At Prime Uganda Safaris & Tours, we have also come up with travel SOPs to be followed by our clients, to ensure their safety, health and well-being. These SOPs are consistent with the advice, guidelines and procedures for post-COVID-19 travellers set up by;
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO
- Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)
- Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA)
- Uganda Tourism Board (UTB)
- Uganda Tour Operators’ Association (AUTO) &
- Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA)
As such, the travel procedures and guidelines described below can be adjusted and updated as the situation change.
- All visitors must wear a face mask at all times
- Keeping a distance of not less than 1.5 metres or about two arms’ lengths from other persons with symptoms and even those without symptoms is highly recommended for all travellers.
- Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; if soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and immediately dispose of the used tissue in a bin with a lid and perform hand hygiene.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid busy places. Leave if you notice it is becoming difficult to keep a distance of 1.5 meters.
- Avoid shaking hands with other people
- Postpone your travel plans in case you’re feeling sick
Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) at specific points in Uganda
Here is a list of COVID-19 Travel SOPs for Uganda upon arrival at the airport or other point of entry
- Visitors are advised to follow the instructions from the relevant staff.
- Travellers must be checked for coronavirus before the date of travel and should carry medical documents backed by medical evidence and in compliance with the best health practice.
- Body temperature screening at all entry points using a non-contact infrared thermometer is a must for all visitors.
- At the airport, a non-contact system (digital travel) has been implemented for passengers to check-in and out and at visa points; you will be attended to by someone behind a glass shield and they will also wear face masks and protectors to keep as little contact as possible.
- For travellers checking in at the airport, wrapping all travel bags in plastic bags is also a must.
- Mandatory hand washing/sanitizing for travellers and staff at all entrances to the airport
- Avoid touching surfaces where possible
- Visitors are required to wear face masks and maintain social distances of at least 2 meters.
- Group tours should not exceed 4 to keep social distance and walk marks will be in place around the airport.
- All travellers are required to wear a face mask while in a car.
- While in the car, social distancing will be observed.
- Regular communication of safety protocols and responsibilities to clients will take place in the car to keep them informed and remind them to remain vigilant while enjoying their Uganda safari.
- There will be on board sanitizing tissues and/or fluids for visitors and staff (drivers’ guides and the like) and we advise you to use them.
- All cars will be sanitized with recommended solutions between each transfer. Surfaces and items such as vehicle door lock, seats, headrests, binoculars, or guide books used by visitors before and after the tour will be sanitized with the recommended disinfectant.
- Many stops along the way may put you and your travelling companions in close contact with other people and surfaces for food or bathroom breaks. Therefore we will reduce the stops and create specific stop places that we prove to be safe for our health and we will encourage a takeaway food system to seat in hotels during stops.
- Reduce the number of objects on board. Limit the quantity of your luggage when you’re traveling to only what is appropriate for your trip.
Prime Uganda Safaris & Tours operate exclusively with hotels and safari lodges that have proved to be compliant with the standards of the WHO, UTB, and Ministry of Tourism to safeguard the health of our clients.
Our partner safari lodges and hotels are also those that foster flexibility in all their operation, such as those that can change the booking if a client is unable to make it at the suggested time and those that can keep the clients’ credit until when they are fit to travel. Below are the measures and guidelines traveler will follow at the accommodation establishments.
Uganda Coronavirus Travel SOPs to follow on arrival to the hotel
- Upon arrival, safety protocols will be clarified to visitors and how they are being practiced by the lodge or hotel to prevent the spread of coronavirus if an individual is found to be sick.
- Our partner hotels and lodges will ensure that the temperature and respiratory conditions of all visitors are reviewed at the check-in point in order to maintain a safe working environment for all staff and guests.
- Visitors with high temperature and/or trouble in breathing will have to be checked by the doctor before they are permitted to access the guest rooms. The hotel/lodge will assign a suitable, comfortable, and well-equipped room for guest accommodation during this process.
- Temperatures will be taken where possible using a contactless infrared-thermometer as a basic standard for checking the common symptoms of the Coronavirus Disease-2019.
- The staff of our partner hotels and safari lodges will ensure guests are properly using masks.
- The guest’s luggage will be handled with gloves and handles wiped with sanitizer.
- Lodges and hotels will provide means for frequent washing/sanitizing of hands throughout the facility. They will also sanitize the often-touched public surfaces.
- Our partner hotels and lodges have also implemented a contactless check-in and will provide visitors with a hygiene welcome kit where possible; gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer.
- Staff will wear disposable gloves while serving a welcome drink to guests and make sure the welcome drinks (if chilled) are kept in sealed containers.
- The use of paperless systems for checking in and billing will be encouraged.
- The social distancing of at least one meter is a must at hotels and lodges. This also involves avoiding embracing and shaking hands between guests and staff.
- Guests at our partner hotels will be advised not to use a crowded elevator when going to their rooms and to avoid touching any surface inside the elevator without a glove or finger protection.
- Objects that are handled daily by visitors will be regularly sanitized.
- There will be hand sanitizer in all bedrooms; we encourage you to use it.
- Our partner hotels will ensure that housekeeping and cleaning are done daily, with emphasis on disinfecting the different surfaces.
- They provide a dedicated housekeeper in each room who will be the only person to access the room during your stay.
- Tea and coffee will be brought to your room in the morning and only by your dedicated housekeeper with items having been cleaned and sanitized in the kitchen.
- The hotels and safari lodges will make sure that all technical and maintenance services such as dishwashing and laundry equipment, dispensers are regularly checked, cleaned, and are serviceable.
- Ensuring that restaurants, breakfast and dining rooms and bars are enforcing/observing social distancing and hygiene measures such as hand washing and sanitizing.
- There will be no buffets for any meal, all the meals will be plated and served individually.
- Menus delivered orally to each table, and then displayed to the guests by the waiter to make their selections – guests do not have to handle it.
- Coffee machines, soda machines, and others, in particular the parts more in contact with the hands of the user, will be cleaned and disinfected at least after each use, and more frequently if needed.
- The lodges and hotels we use are those that have trained their entire staff COVID-19 preventive and control measures, such as social distancing, the appropriate wearing of face masks, and regular hand washing.
- There will be use of health and safety equipment for all service staff, such as gloves and masks.
- In case a staff develops coronavirus symptoms; he/she will stop work immediately and seek medical assistance. The staff will stay isolated in a suitable room while the medical services are being notified.
- The guest’s comfort and safety is highly prioritized by our partner hotels and lodges, and the staff has received training in handling suspected cases.
- A guest suspected of having COVID-19 will stay in an individual room, except in the case of children or persons requiring caretakers. The guest will get food in the room. All details about the ill guest will be handled discretionarily.
- The sick guest will be asked to wear a mask and practice respiratory hygiene when coughing and sneezing. If the mask cannot be tolerated by the ill person, the tissues will be provided to cover the mouth and immediately discard the tissue into the biohazard waste bag.
- To reduce the risk of infecting other visitors or staff members, symptomatic guests will leave the hotel as directed by the management and local health authority. The symptomatic guest will be assessed for their condition and, if they meet the definition of a suspected case, they will be transferred to a designated health care facility.
- When appropriate, a sick guest will be isolated in a room temporarily until the intervention of the local health officials and ensure that the room is not shared with other visitors.
- Guests will not be permitted to access the room occupied by the sick visitor.
- If there is no choice but to hold a sick guest suspected of having coronavirus with mild symptoms, self-isolation in the room will be considered. Doctor’s visits will be carried out in the sick person’s room whenever possible.
- Within restaurants and eateries, both staff and customers will maintain a gap of at least 1 meter.
- Wherever practicable, the menu will be displayed either by the TV screen, display board or under the glass pad of the table despite using printed menu cards
- At places that offer buffets, there will be a dedicated staff member(s) to serve the food to the guest to avoid many customers handling spoons and other utensils in the buffet.
- Make sure only half of the normal occupancy is allowed in the restaurant or food outlet. A prior reservation mechanism is recommended to prevent over-crowding and unnecessary disappointments for guests.
- At the entry, each consumer will be sprayed with hand sanitizers.
- Ensure employees and visitors are putting on face masks.
- Using of cashless or contactless payment, speed up the payment process and reduce cash handling.
- These procedures and guidelines will be implemented alongside other existing National Parks rules and regulations.
- Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) will provide hand washing/sanitization facilities at the entrances of all its premises and protected areas. Tourists, researchers, and other persons visiting the National park or a reserve shall wash and or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (containing at least 60% alcohol) at every entrance point.
- UWA staff, tourists, researchers, research assistants, and other visitors, shall, at all times correctly and consistently wear a face mask approved by the Government of Uganda/Ministry of Health. The mask shall protect/cover the nose and mouth at all times as required.
- All visitors shall come with their masks and appropriately and consistently wear them as prescribed by health authorities.
- Visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Kibale National Park (primate parks) shall be required to wear N95 masks, surgical masks or cloth masks with filters.
- Travellers with disposable masks such as the N95 and surgical masks shall be required to carry at least two or more to ensure single-use for each day of visitation.
- Tourists or any other visitor who does not have a face mask or one who does not abide by the handwashing and sanitization measures and guidelines will not be allowed to enter protected areas.
- There will be the use of non-contact infrared thermometers to conduct body temperature screening by UWA of all visitors at the entrance to the park.
- Guests who show a body temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius on the scanner will be denied entry into the protected areas and will be reported to the respective district medical teams through the mechanisms set by the Uganda Ministry of Health.
- International visitors will be required to provide proof that they have undergone the necessary Government of Uganda/Ministry of Health measures for inbound travellers as shall be advised from time to time. The required documentary proof may include but not limited to clearance by the Ministry of Health of mandatory quarantine or rapid test results where applicable and any other documentation that the Ministry of Health shall prescribe as a requirement for entry into Uganda and the wildlife Protected Areas.
- Areas that are frequently used by visitors will be disinfected at least three times a day—before, during, and after visiting hours. These include information counters, service desks, waiting areas, park offices and toilets. Toilets, in particular, shall be cleaned every 2 hours. Regular sanitization of workstations, doorknobs, and other susceptible surfaces shall be carried out.
- All staff will be equipped with knowledge on correct and consistent use of masks, infrared thermometers, and other general measures required when handling visitors.
- All park gate counters will be set with a transparent screen where applicable.
- Where applicable in public campsites, all tourists and camp crew should pitch their tents at a reasonable distance of not less than three meters apart.
- Cultural visits will be done while observing preventive measures such as avoiding shaking hands, hugging, and touching objects.
Travellers will follow the measures and guidelines established by the Uganda Government and Ministry of Health while in a boat or car in the Uganda safari parks and reserves, for example;
- Over landers – shall carry half capacity also as prescribed by Uganda Government and Ministry of Health.
- Buses, minibusses, and omnibuses – shall carry half capacity but this can be changed from time to time as shall be guided by the Uganda Government and Ministry of Health.
- Concessionaire delivery vehicles, pick-ups, and Lorries shall carry two people
- Private boats and launches – Half capacity occupancy
- Tour operator game drive vehicles and UWA owned game drive vehicles – 6 persons.
- Saloon car vehicles shall not be permitted to carry out game drives activities in the protected areas.
- The social distancing of one free vacant seat between any two occupants shall be observed in the vehicles.
- All tour operators shall provide their drivers with an alcohol-based rub/hand sanitizer.
- Tour operators and service providers shall disinfect their vehicles regularly.
- Uganda Wildlife Authority owned vehicles will be washed every day before use and disinfected daily. Procedures to manage chemical waste will apply while disposing of the used disinfectants. Every protected area shall provide a safe location where vehicle spraying shall be done and where tour operators can disinfect their vehicles.
- All other precautionary measures will be enforced; washing hands, social distancing, and using masks correctly.
- All safari tour operators will be encouraged to provide their drivers with alcohol-based hand rub/hand sanitizer frequently or wear gloves. Caution should; however, be taken to remove this sanitizer whenever a car is in the park.
- All parks and wildlife reserves will provide a safe location where the spraying can be done and where tour operators can also park their cars to disinfect them.
These activities include a briefing of tourists, boat cruises, game drives, gorilla, and chimpanzee trekking. Below are the SOPs for these activities.
Uganda Covid-19 Standard operating procedures to follow during tourist briefing
- Visitors shall be briefed about the activities before engaging in any Uganda safari activity in the park or reserve. This will be done in a designated briefing area of the different protected areas.
- Coronavirus prevention measures will an integral part of briefing messages, in addition to having Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials displayed inappropriate access locations.
Uganda Corona Virus Travel SOPs on a boat cruises
- All regular National Parks rules and regulations shall apply.
- Private boats and launches will carry half capacity
- Social distancing measures will be observed while on a boat– one free vacant seat between any two occupants.
- All-time, visitors must put face masks appropriately
- Boats operating in the National Parks and reserves will be cleaned and disinfected before deployment on any launch trip.
- In case a visitor gets side effects because of putting on a face mask for a long time, the guest shall inform the guide who will find space within the boat for the client to get some fresh air for a few minutes.
- All regular Uganda National Park rules and regulations will apply.
- The vehicle guidelines described above will also apply
- If the visitor requests the guide to accompany them on their game drive, the guide will sit in the front of the vehicle and will continuously remind the visitors to observe social distancing.
- The visitor will be required to put on face masks at all times and dispose of appropriately in accordance with the guidelines on the use of the masks.
- A visitor may experience side effects due to wearing a face mask for a long time. In case this happens, the visitor shall inform the guide who will find a safe and secure location to park the vehicle and allow the tourist to get fresh air. Should there be no improvement, UWA shall arrange immediate evacuation and transfer to the nearest health facility, and the game drive activity shall be suspended.
- Picnic meals while on game drives are encouraged – and of course are thoroughly enjoyable! Hand-washing facilities and hand-sanitizer will be available and hygiene strictly observed by your guide.
- Each of our guides has a vehicle that he looks after and is responsible for ensuring the hygienic cleanliness of the vehicle before and after each game drive. This includes cleaning areas of high-frequency touches, such as door handles and side armrests.
- All regular rules and regulations for gorilla and chimpanzee trekking will apply.
- Visitors and staff will wash hands or sanitize and have the body temperature screen at the briefing area.
- Briefing and debriefing will be done in small groups of not more than 8 tourists after they have assigned a gorilla group for trekking.
- In case a visitor, staff, or porter is observed to be with signs of flu, diarrhea, stomach upset during the briefing, he/she will not be allowed to track the mountain gorillas or chimpanzees.
- All tourists and staff must put a face mask appropriately at all time
- The assigned Uganda Wildlife Authority/UWA guide will ensure social distancing of two meters among trekkers, where possible.
- Visitors shall bring light safari equipment to reduce the need for porters while undertaking the gorilla trekking in Uganda or chimpanzee trekking in Uganda.
- Because a visitor can get side effects of putting on a face mask for a long time in high elevations in case of mountain gorilla trekking, visitors will take frequent breaks during tracking to give themselves time to breathe fresh air. Social distancing will be observed during breaks.
- In case a tourist or accompanying members of the team experience a health-related problem, UWA staff shall apply the established evacuation and first aid guidelines to move the affected individual from the park.
NOTE: The above guidelines can be reviewed and changed from time to time by the Government of Uganda and the Ministry of Health in Uganda .