UGANDA CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES COVID-19 TRAVEL SAFARI SOP’s IN UGANDA (SOP’S).
Travel in the New Normal−Measures & Guidelines
Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures or COVID-19 Travel-Safari SOP’s in Uganda are very important for those intending to travel to Uganda in the new normal period. Uganda has announced that Entebbe International Airport and land borders will be re-opened on 1st/October/2020 for all incoming and outgoing commercial flights. This was aimed at resumption of tourism to the country−ending at least 6 months of lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Africa and Uganda have survived the Coronavirus better than many countries in Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and Australia. However, this doesn’t mean that Uganda will lower coronavirus preventative standards, directives, and measures.
Therefore as you prepare to travel to Uganda, please be aware that Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed several things in our lives, including how you go on a safari. Like elsewhere in the world, there are new requirements for anyone planning to visit Uganda.
Prime Uganda safaris and tours advise you to read on these Uganda CoronavirusTravel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)
that will be followed on your Uganda safari during this period of Coronavirus (COVID-19). These measures and guidelines are for the health and wellbeing of;
- Tour operators
- Lodges and hotels employees
- The national park, wildlife reserves, and other protected areas employees and
- Wild animals more especially primates like gorillas and chimpanzees which share over 98% of their DNA with humans.
Generally, everyone’s well-being is the focus of the newly implemented rules and guidelines that will guide International Tourism in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.
These Coronavirus (COVID-19) SOPs have been put in place by Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), and Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA). They are consistent with advice, guidelines, and procedures set up by;
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and
- Uganda—Ministry of Health (MoH)
The COVID-19/Uganda Travel Standard Operating Procedures described below can be adjusted and updated as the situation change.
General Uganda Coronavirus (COVID-19) Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) for Travelers to Uganda.
- All visitors must wear a face mask at all times
- Every individual traveler is advised to carry a spare mask(s) in case they need to replace the original one that they have. Used masks must be disposed of in a facility provided for that purpose.
- Keeping a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) from other persons with symptoms and even those without symptoms is highly recommended for all travelers. This also includes refraining from hugging and shaking hands.
- Frequently and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or by using an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. The tissue used should immediately dispose of in a bin with a lid and perform hand hygiene.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid busy places and leave if you notice it is becoming difficult to keep a social distance of 2 meters.
- Postpone your travel plans in case you are feeling sick
The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) has established several COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that shall be followed by visitors when the Entebbe International Airport re-opens on 1st/October/2020. These guidelines are in line with the various COVID-SOPs established by;
- International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO)
- Airport Council International (ACI)
- International Air Transport Association (IATA)
- Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA)
- Africa Civil Aviation Council (AFCAC) and
- World Health Organization (WHO)
The following measures and guidelines/SOPs will be practiced as soon as the passenger flight operations resume;
- On arrival, visitors will need to provide an authentic and valid negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test certificate dated not more than 72 hours before their date of arrival.
- The certificate must be from an accredited laboratory in their country of Origin. Passengers must carry along an official printed certificate, as SMS and digital certificates will not be accepted.
- Visitors are required to wear quality N95 masks, surgical masks, or cloth masks with filters at all time while at the airport or any other point of entry to Uganda.
- Social distancing of at least 2 meters/6 feet should be observed at the airport and other points of entry to Uganda.
- All visitors will be subjected to temperature screening at all entry points using a non-contact infrared thermometer.
- Visitors with a body temperature above 37.5℃ (99.5°F) or any symptoms of coronavirus will be referred to further management which may include testing. Should you test positive, you will be quarantined at your expense.
- No quarantine will be applicable for travelers with a negative PCR test, body temperature below 37.5℃ (99.5°F), and who do not present any symptoms of COVID-19.
- At Entebbe Airport, everything has been done to expedite the process, including putting up testing-tents for arriving passengers.
- There will be mandatory hand washing/sanitizing for travellers and staff at all entrances to the airport and other entry points.
- Departing passengers will be required to report to the airport 4 hours prior to their flight departure time to cater for additional time that will be spent going through the extra health screening procedures.
- Entebbe International Airport terminal building has already been marked for the observing of social distance. Lounge seats have also been marked to create some space between seats, and automated sanitizers installed at various strategic points in the terminal building.
- Glass shields have been erected at immigration counters and check-in counters to avoid direct interface between airport staff and passengers.
- Avoid touching surfaces where possible.
- Tour operators and local partners will need to ensure that passengers from the Airport directly proceed to their place of stay and do not mix with Ugandans.
- All travelers 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.
Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) for the Tourism Enterprises
Prime Uganda Safaris & Tours operate exclusively with hotels and safari lodges that have proved to be compliant with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), and Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) 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.
- 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.
The tour operators and their service providers must comply with the general provision under this protocol;
- Have Standard Operating Procedures for guest Management in accordance with these protocols and the Ministry of Health COVID-19 preventive guidelines as appropriate.
- The guest register must be kept and updated daily. It should also include mobile contact & physical address for ease in tracing.
- Create and keep a register of all staff, drivers and guests handled.
- Minimize walk-in clients and encourage online bookings whenever possible.
- Tour vans and transfer vehicle must be properly cleaned and sanitized before, during and after each trip/transfer.
- Visitors should be provided with packed lunches to avoid stop-overs during long drive. While serving food and drinks, staff must observe guidelines similar to catering and accommodation facilities provided herein.
- Where applicable, the vehicle air-conditioner can be modified to include air purifiers. This can help to minimise the ability of the virus circulating inside the vehicle especially for larger and luxury vehicles.
- When the weather permits, encourage open windows to allow air circulation
- The number of staff accompanying visitors on every trip should be limited.
- Make sure that information provided is stuck on the back of the chairs or the body of the vehicle to reduce contact.
- Encourage use of smart/automated doors to reduce touching contaminated surfaces where possible.
- Integrate technologies to allow automation, like contactless payments platforms such as online money transactions and tour information where possible and discourage cash payments.
- Tour guides must undertake a strong approach to risk management, incorporating the systematic implementation of measures from the contingency plan defined to prevent and reduce health and hygiene risks in their operations. To do so, they must:
- Identify existing risks (routes to be taken, visits to monuments, possible crowding, group size, restrictions on the provision of certain tourist services, etc.)
- Develop mechanisms for gathering information to make the best decisions to be adopted in their activity (specialists, destination managers, etc.)
- Conduct a risk assessment to draw conclusions.
- Design a contingency plan and implementation in coordination with stakeholders (service providers, authorities, other guides, etc.)
- The contingency plan should include:
- The measures to be adopted to prevent hygiene and health risks
- The allocation of material resources, including determining the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in accordance with the needs derived from the prior assessment.
- The determination and implementation of an action protocol in the event that a client is observed with symptoms compatible with COVID-19, following in all cases health authority guidelines.
- Compliance with the recommendations and guidelines issued by health authorities regarding special measures against COVID-19, as well as the additional measures contained in the contingency plan resulting from the risk assessment.
- Tour guides must establish the actions needed to acquire the resources provided in the contingency plan, as well as those recommended by health authorities, for example, hand sanitizer, masks, gloves.
- The measures to be adopted in the contingency plan must consider the following:
- Gain information and training on health and hygiene risk prevention guidelines in the activity.
- Avoid greeting other tour guides, service providers and visitors with physical contact, including shaking hands. Safe distances must be respected whenever possible.
- Refrain from providing the service if the tour guide experiences any symptoms of the disease, even if they are mild.
The tour guide must inform clients about applicable prevention and hygiene measures, and also:
- Restrictions, limitations or modifications to the service to prevent contagion.
- Preventive measures taken by the tour guide during the tour and which must be adopted by the clients. The latter must be notified to clients before contracting the services.
The tour guide must follow these preventive measures when designing activities:
- Determine how the visit will be conducted and where the tour will go based on the risk assessment and the regulations and/or possible restrictions applied by the various service providers (museums, monuments, national parks, etc.). For example:
- Prepare one-way routes to avoid groups crossing whenever possible coordinating in any case with other tour guides.
- Avoid areas likely to be crowded.
- Avoid small spaces with limited capacity.
- Wherever possible, a single point should be established for getting on and off the vehicle in areas with more tourism in order to facilitate information, application of health and hygiene regulations and control application. This point should be agreed with the administration.
- Walking tours and stops for explaining monuments must be done in open and/or wide spaces, respecting the safe distance.
- A maximum number of people to whom the service can be offered safely should be established. If tour guides use their own vehicle to transport tourists (always with the required license), they must follow the guidelines set by health authorities.
- The tour guide should ask providers used to contract a service (e.g. accommodation, restaurants, coaches, museums, monuments, visitor centers, etc.) for the applicable protocol for the prevention of health and hygiene risks with respect to COVID-19.
The tour guide should coordinate with suppliers in order to avoid crowding when groups arrive, for example:
- Sending the list of client documentation in advance.
- Handing out room keys inside the vehicle.
- Staggered entrance to the hotel/museum/monument.
- Setting up an appointment.
Pre-activity information and communication
- The tour guide must:
- Send the client a document along with the quote explaining the preventive measures that will be taken in terms of health and safety during the service, preferably in the client’s mother tongue or, failing that, in English.
- This document should be as graphic and illustrated as possible.
- Have access to information on the location and contact details of medical and emergency care centers where a client with COVID-19 compatible symptoms can be referred.
- Welcome activities: The following preventive measures must be enforced:
Before starting the tour/visit;
- The tour guide should recall the preventive measures in place and urge compliance with them for the good and safety of others (no touching surfaces, keeping a safe distance, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, etc.).
- The tour guide must inform the group of how the visit will be carried out, the route and the rules and/or possible restrictions applied by the various providers (museums, monuments, national parks, etc.).
- Forms of greeting that involve physical contact with the client should be avoided.
- One disposable cover per person should be used for microphones that may be used consecutively by several tour guides.
During the tour/visit;
- The tour guide must always appear calm and confident in applying this protocol. Clients must be reminded of complying with this protocol of measures during the tour.
- The tour guide authorization, which must always be worn visibly during the service, must be correctly sanitized.
- The tour guide who chooses to wear gloves must put them on in front of visitors and use them correctly, although hand washing before and after the visit and whenever equipment is shared is recommended.
- Properly disinfected or single-use headsets/whispers/radio guides should be used. If they are not single-use, the client will disinfect their hands before and after use. The client will return these devices, placing them all in a bag which will be sealed. Other alternatives can be considered, such as applications on the tourist’s mobile.
- Printed material such as maps, brochures, etc. should be avoided and replaced with digital material. If this is not possible, they should be easy to clean and disinfect, or be disposable.
- The planned schedule should be respected as much as possible to avoid incidents. Improvisations affecting the development and itinerary of the visit should be avoided.
- The work of other colleagues and coordination with them must be respected, especially in places with narrow streets, access to monuments, etc.
- The safe distance between the tour guide and clients, and between clients themselves, should be maintained throughout the tour. If this is not possible, a mask should be used and clients should be encouraged to use one too. Clients must be informed of this and whether they must bring a mask.
- Transparent screens are recommended to facilitate communication with hearing impaired clients
After the tour and during the farewell;
- Avoid the use of cash and prioritize the use of cards or other electronic means, preferably contactless, when charging and paying for services and/or providers (e.g. pre-payment online).
- If cash is handled, hands should be washed or disinfected as soon as possible.
- Protective materials used (masks, gloves, etc.) must be disposed of properly
- The tour guide should consider the following aspects in terms of cleaning and disinfection;
- Using authorized disinfectant cleaning products safely and according to product safety guidelines.
- Increasing cleaning frequencies, especially in areas of greatest contact like car door handles and equipment.
- All professional safari providers, photographers and beach operators shall comply with the general provision under this protocol and in addition;
- Safari guides shall carry sanitizer at all times and its regular use is encouraged.
- Guides and guests shall wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment at all times.
- Additional disposable Personal Protective Equipment shall be made available in the vehicle for use at all times.
- Waste bins shall be available for the disposal of used Personal Protective Equipment.
- A contactless thermometer for checking temperature shall be made available for use in the vehicle at all times.
- Maintain good personal grooming and ensure clothing is properly cleaned and ironed on a daily basis.
- Ensure vehicles used in guest transport are cleaned and sanitized after every passenger /group tour.
- Each Site Manager /Operator shall appoint a Safety Officer responsible for temperature screening of site operators and clients before their interaction.
- Maintain a register of clients transported or who have interacted with the tour guides/Tour Site operators.
- Maintain appropriate and reliable list of emergency contacts for rapid assistance in case of health and safety related instances. Handling of cash shall be minimized or eliminated and online mobile payment or credit/debit cards encouraged.
- Guide books shall be provided on request.
Tourist Service Vehicles & Boats
Tourist Service Vehicle/Boat Operators shall be required to comply with the general provision under this protocol and in addition;
- Ensure Tourist Service Vehicles (TSVs)/Boats are sanitized before the start of each trip and this will include cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces (handrails, door handles, tables, seats etc.), at regular times in the course of trip and at the end of the trip.
- Ensure TSVs/Boats are sanitized before a new group of guests/clients use them.
- Have hand sanitizers freely available on board for the guests to use throughout the journey
- Provide approved quality facemasks to guests on all trips on need basis.
Carrying Capacity of Tourist Service Vehicles & Boats
- The carrying capacity that ensures social distancing between guests travelling together, the maximum recommended capacity to be observed for each class of vehicle are as follows;
- Customized Tour Vehicles (Land cruisers and Vans)-7 occupants including the driver.
- Mini Vans, Coasters and buses, fifty percent of carrying capacity as per the Ministry of Works & Transport guidelines.
- Ensure that all tour arrangements consider the needs of persons with disabilities.
- Choose service partners that are confirmed to comply with existing Government directives for the safe handling of their guests.
- Keep a record of emergency contacts for rapid response services in case of COVID-19 suspected instances from designated Authorities.
Maintenance of cleanliness of the Tourist Service Vehicles/Boats on trips
- Ensure TSVs/Boats are sanitized frequently. Particular attention should be paid to disinfecting frequently touched areas and surfaces both internal and external such as door handles and arm rests.
- Third party cleaners and car washers should wear appropriate PPEs.
- Guests are encouraged to bring their own water bottles.
- Any provided water bottles or items should be labeled with each guest name to avoid sharing or use by another.
- Reusable food containers should be sanitized regularly.
- Binoculars, telescopes and cameras should not to be shared and should be sanitized regularly.
- Blankets or ponchos are discouraged; however where provided for guest use, they shall not be shared and should be disinfected/ sanitized regularly.
- Particular attention shall be given to luggage disinfection before and after handling
- All used Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) (gloves, masks, tissues) and any other disposable material should be disposed of in a covered bin.
- Homestays and community/cultural villages tourist owners, service providers shall be required to comply with the general requirements outlined in this protocol and;
- Guests shall inform the homestay, community/ cultural village host of their intended visit and book in advance to allow hosts to ably prepare for their visits.
- Guests shall only be allowed at specified homes or communities that ensure guests and hosts keep the required physical distance and practice safe hygiene.
- Vulnerable persons, children and elderly members of the host family/community shall not be allowed to interact with guests.
- Guests shall not share sanitation facilities and items used by members of the hosting family or community/cultural village.
- Unregistered/unlicensed homestays shall not be allowed to receive and/or accommodate guests overnight within hosting community/cultural villages.
- Guests shall only be allowed to touch souvenir items that they purchase.
- Food preparation and service demonstrations by community/cultural villages shall not be allowed.
- Informal attractions such as valley viewpoints and curio shops along tourist routes shall provide hygiene and sanitation facilities including running water and soap for hand washing and encourage social distancing.
- Great care shall be taken when using equipment to avoid sharing items such as boats’ life jackets among others or sanitized.
- Where a safari guide stops at any informal attraction’s sites, they shall ensure strict hygiene protocols are followed including face covering essentials and sanitization before and after stopover at the sites.
- Shops/curio venders shall comply with the general provision under part two of this protocol to ensure minimum contact with guests and;
- Sanitize or wash hands before and immediately after entering the work premises and after touching items or surfaces.
- Guest hand sanitizers/hand wash facilities shall be provided in strategic locations within and around the premises or entrance of the premises.
- Credit card machines where used, shall be wiped with alcohol wipes before and after use by each guest.
- 70% alcohol-based sanitizer spray can be sprayed thinly on all items that had been touched and then allowed to evaporate (no wiping needed).
- Guests shall be required to properly sanitize and/or wash their hands-on initial arrival before entry to the shop.
- Goods/items shall be sanitized, cleaned, packed, and sanitized again and delivered to guest’s pick-up tray/trolley or table designated for the purpose.
- Staff delivering packed goods/items shall stand back 2 meters until the guest has retrieved the goods/ items delivery.
- There shall be zoning of general vendors operating in a certain locality to ensure social distancing is maintained.
- A register of general vendors operating in a certain locality shall be kept by local associations or local authorities for ease in tracing.
- Unlicensed vendors shall be barred from operating on the sites and venues as they may pose problems in tracing.
Handling Covid-19 Cases
- If a guest or staff develops symptoms of acute respiratory infection, efforts should immediately be made to reduce contact of the person with all guests and staff.
- Management should follow the procedures in the action plan for the situation when a guest develops signs and symptoms indicative of COVID-19 as they contact the responsible health professionals.
- Separate the person from the other persons by at least 2m (6 ft) in a designated isolation area.
- Request the person to wear a mask and practice respiratory hygiene when coughing and sneezing. If the mask cannot be tolerated by the ill person, provide tissues to cover mouth and discard the tissue immediately into a biohazard disposal waste bag or place it into an intact plastic bag, seal it, and consider it “biohazard” waste; wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- In case the person cannot wear a mask, direct contact with the ill person should be avoided unless wearing at least disposable gown, gloves, a mask, and eye protection.
- When attending to a guest or staff coming from an affected area who displays fever, persistent cough, or difficulty breathing, always use additional protective equipment, including mask, eye protection, gloves, and a gown.
- Remove Personal Protective Equipment carefully to avoid contaminating yourself. First remove gloves and gown, do hand hygiene; next remove the mask and eye protection, and immediately wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Properly dispose of gloves and other disposable items that had contact with the person’s body fluids in biohazard bag or a secured plastic bag, which will be considered as “biohazard” waste.
Case of an affected worker
- If a member of the staff reports respiratory symptoms, the staff must immediately stop work and seek medical assistance. The staff should stay isolated in a suitable room while the medical services are being notified.
- Staff who reports from home that they are ill with respiratory symptoms should be advised to stay at home and seek medical attention.
- Staff who report from home that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 should follow the instructions received from the health authorities, including the recommendation of self-isolation at home until fully healed.
Case of an affected guest
- If the person affected is a guest, continued stay of the sick person in the establishment is not recommended. The person can be isolated in a room on a temporary basis until the intervention of local health authorities, and provided the room is not shared with other guests. No visitors should be permitted to enter the room occupied by the affected guest.
- Depending on the availability of rooms, accompanying persons, if any, should be moved to a different room.
- Measures for the management of contacts can be referred to the health authority interim guidance on home care for patients with COVID-19 presenting with mild symptoms and management of their contacts.
SOPs for tourism services and research activities in UWA estates and the re-opening of the protected areas to the general public during COVID-19 pandemic
These Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are meant to guide the resumption of tourism and research activities to ensure safe, consistent and effective delivery of these services in the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) protected areas.
They are intended to complement other measures approved for the sector such as the Hospitality Enterprises SOPs as well as the directives and guidelines issued by government from time to time.
The SOPs cover management of the various categories of tourists, researchers, tour operators and visitor touch points along the UWA tourism and research value chain at head office and in the protected areas.
These include bookings and reservations, clearance of researchers, key tourism activities, key services such as accommodations and restaurants, park access and exit, among others.
All guidelines and directives issued from time to time by the Government of Uganda and Ministry of Health on COVID-19 shall supersede these UWA SOPs and shall be observed in entirety. However, the UWA SOPs shall be enforced in tandem with the Government of Uganda and Ministry of Health guidelines
- Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) shall provide hand washing/sanitization facilities at the entrances of all its premises and protected areas.
- Visitors shall carry their own masks.
- UWA shall provide its entire staff with masks. Clients and staff without masks shall not be permitted to enter UWA premises.
- All staff and visitors shall, at all times, correctly and consistently wear the recommended masks prescribed by Government of Uganda/Ministry of Health. The masks shall cover the nose and mouth at all times when in use.
- At the Headquarters’ reservations office, UWA Management shall provide a tent to serve as a waiting area for clients. The sitting arrangement will be in such a way that a 2-metre social distancing is observed and clients shall sit facing same direction. The tent and chairs shall be disinfected at least twice a day.
- To ensure smooth flow of visitors, a First in First Out (FIFO) mechanism shall apply; UWA Management shall designate specific staff to guide the movement of visitors and enforce all other guidelines i.e. hand washing, social distancing, wearing masks, respiratory hygiene and sanitization.
- Only five (05) visitors shall be allowed to enter the reservations office at a time to ensure social distancing is adhered to. Seats in the reservations office shall be marked to show where these five (05) visitors shall sit to ensure safe distancing.
- At the Information centres in the various Protected Areas and neighboring urban areas, the respective Chief Wardens/Wardens in Charge shall ensure that social distancing and appropriate hygiene guidelines are strictly enforced whilst serving clients.
- Staff on duty shall sensitize the visitors on the general government approved COVID-19 operational guidelines as well as those developed and approved by UWA management.
- The above guidelines shall be displayed clearly at all customer interaction touch points, UWA website and other relevant electronic media platforms.
- Online payment options, credit/debit card payments and use of mobile money shall be used whilst effecting payment for tourism services and activities.
- These procedures and guidelines will be implemented alongside other existing protected areas rules and regulations.
- Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) will provide hand sanitization facilities at all its premises and protected areas entry points. All persons, including tourists and researchers accessing the protected area shall wash and or use an alcohol based hand sanitizers (containing at least 60% alcohol) at all entry points.
- All UWA staff and visitors must, at all times correctly and consistently wear the recommended face masks prescribed by Government of Uganda and Ministry of health. The mask shall cover the nose and mouth at all times when in use.
- All visitors including tourists and researchers must come with their own face masks.
- Tourists and researchers to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Kibale National Park and Kyambura Wildlife Reserve will be required to wear N95 masks, surgical masks or cloth masks with filters.
- Visitors with disposable masks such as the N95 and surgical masks will be required to carry at least two (02) or more masks to ensure single use for each day of visitation.
- All tourists going for primate tracking activities must carry at least two N95 masks or surgical masks or double layered cloth masks with filters.
- Visitors without masks or those who do not abide by the handwashing and sanitization measures will not be allowed to enter the National Parks, wildlife reserves or any other protected areas.
- There will be mandatory screening of all visitors’ body temperature at the tourism gates of the various protected area. This will be done by Uganda Wildlife Authority staff using non-contact infrared thermometers.
- Visitors with temperatures body above 37.5 degrees Celsius will not be allowed to enter the protected areas and will be reported to the respective district medical teams through the mechanisms set by Uganda Ministry of Health.
- International visitors/tourists 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 Ministry of Health of mandatory quarantine or rapid test results where applicable and any other documentation that the Ministry of Health prescribed as a requirement for entry into Uganda and the wildlife protected areas
- All common areas with heavy tourist contacts shall 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 UWA staff shall be trained on correct and consistent use of masks, infrared thermometers and other general measures required when handling tourists.
- It is mandatory for all researchers coming into the protected Areas or close proximity of wild animals to wear clean clothing and disinfected footwear prior to going to the field for data collection.
- Any researcher must carry into the field a hand sanitizer.
- Time spent conducting research activities near primates will be limited to not more than five hours (5 hours) per designated research day.
- The research team will comprise a maximum number of 3 people to ensure safety and health monitoring.
- A distance of not less than 10 metres from the primates will at all times be maintained.
- A surgical facemask must be worn by everyone coming within 10 metres (33 feet) of primates.
Travelers 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, minibuses, 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.
- Social distancing of one free vacant seat between any two occupants shall be observed in the vehicles.
- Tour operators and service providers shall disinfect their vehicles regularly.
- All tour operators shall provide their drivers with an alcohol-based rub/hand sanitizer.
- UWA owned vehicles shall be washed every day before use and disinfected daily. Procedures to manage chemical wastes shall apply while disposing 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.
Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) during tourists briefing
- Before engaging in any tourism activities, visitors will be briefed regarding the activities they are about to engage in.
- The briefing of tourists will be done at the designated briefing areas in the various protected areas.
- COVID-19 prevention measures shall be an integral part of briefing messages in addition to having Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials displayed in appropriate access locations
Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) during Chimpanzee and gorilla trekking
- At the briefing points, visitors and staff shall wash hands or sanitize and have their body temperature taken.
- Briefing and debriefing shall be done in small groups of eight (08) tourists after they have been assigned gorilla families for tracking.
- Tourists, staff, and porters who, during the briefing, are observed to be sick shall not be allowed to track. These include anyone with signs of flu, and those who report to have diarrhoea, stomach upsets and malaria among others.
- All the visitors, staff and trackers must wear masks. Surgical masks are highly recommended for gorilla and chimpanzee tracking.
- A maximum of eight (8) tourists shall be allowed to track a gorilla group per day.
- A maximum of six (6) tourists shall be allowed to track a chimpanzee group at a time.
- The tourists must keep a distance of not less than 10 metres away from the gorillas and chimpanzees during this period.
- The assigned UWA guides shall ensure there is social distancing of 2 meters among the tourists while tracking, where practical.
- Before the gorilla and chimpanzee viewing commences, all people in the group shall sanitise their hands again.
- Visitors shall bring light safari equipment to reduce the need for porters while undertaking the gorilla trekking in Uganda or chimpanzee trekking in Uganda.
- Due to the reported side effects of wearing masks for long periods and in high altitudes, visitors shall take frequent breaks during the tracking give themselves time to breathe fresh air.
- During these breaks, social distancing shall be strictly observed.
- In case a tourist or accompanying members of the team experiences a health related problem, UWA staff shall apply the established evacuation and first aid guidelines to move the affected individual from the field.
Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) on Game Drives
- All regular national park rules in place will apply.
- The above vehicle guidelines for tourist vehicles and boats within the Protected Areas will also apply.
- Where a guide is requested to accompany tourists on a game drive, the guide will sit in the front of the vehicle and will always remind the visitors to keep social distance.
- Masks shall be worn at all times and disposed of appropriately in accordance with the guidelines on use of masks.
- Where a tourist experiences side effects due to wearing a mask for long, the tourist shall inform the guide who shall find a safe and secure place to park the vehicle and allow the tourists to get fresh air while maintaining social distance.
- Should there be no improvement, UWA shall arrange immediate evacuation and transfer to the nearest health facility. The game drive activity shall be suspended.
Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) on a boat cruise
- All regular national park rules will apply.
- The boat and launches guidelines in section 6 above will apply.
- The above vehicle guidelines for boat and launches within the Protected Areas will also apply.
- All boats operating in the protected areas will be cleaned and disinfected every day before deployment on any boat cruise activity.
- The guide will make sure that passengers on the boat strictly observe social distancing measures– one free vacant seat between any two occupants.
- While on boat, all passengers and crew must wear masks at all times
- Where a tourist experiences side effects due to wearing a mask for a long time, the tourist shall inform the guide who will find space within the boat for the client to get some fresh air for a few minutes.
- Uganda Coronavirus Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for specific tourism activities
Uganda Coronavirus Travel Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) for large groups and events
- Large groups such as school groups exceeding 25 people will not be allowed in the National Parks at the same time for the same activities.
- Also, events like destination weddings will not be allowed in the interim in UWA protected areas.
Note; The guidelines above shall be reviewed from time to time, as the Ministry of Health shall so advise.
Uganda Coronavirus (COVID-19) SOPs for Uganda Wildlife Authority Owned Accommodation, Restaurants and Curio shops
All Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) owned accommodation facilities, restaurants, canteens and gift shops together with concessionaire accommodations and services will be run in a manner that provides a safe environment for both staff and tourists as per the guidelines and measures by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB).
The UWA COVID-19 Task Force will enforce the implementation of these guidelines, which include among others:
- Ensuring social distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene measures at all the accommodation sites are practiced.
- Making sure that the necessary equipment and medical kits are provided by the facilities.
- Making sure that all technical and maintenance services such as dishwashing and laundry equipment, dispensers are regularly checked, cleaned and are serviceable.
- Making sure that restaurants, breakfast and dining rooms and bars enforce/observe social distancing and hygiene measures such as hand washing and sanitizing.
- Making sure that housekeeping and cleaning is done every day with emphasis on disinfecting the different surfaces.
SOPs while using face masks
It is a recommended best practice by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that humans visiting primates wear surgical masks to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory diseases to primates.
How to wear a face mask?
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or rub your hands together thoroughly with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Check for defects in the face mask, such as tears or broken loops.
- Position the coloured side of the mask outward.
- If present, make sure the metallic strip is at the top of the mask and positioned against the ridge of your nose.
- If the mask has:
- Ear loops: Hold the mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear.
- Ties: Hold the mask by the upper strings. Tie the upper strings in a secure bow near the crown of your head. Tie the bottom strings securely in a bow near the nape of your neck.
- Dual elastic bands: Pull the top band over your head and position it against the crown of your head. Pull the bottom band over your head and position it against the nape of your neck.
- Mold the bendable metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers.
- Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin and ensure the mask fully covers your nose and mouth.
- Be sure the mask fits snugly.
- Don’t touch the mask once in position.
- If the mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one.
- Touch the mask once it is secured on your face as it might have pathogens on it.
- Dangle the mask from one ear.
- Hang the mask around your neck.
- Crisscross the ties.
- Reuse single-use masks.
- If you have to touch the face mask while you’re wearing it, wash your hands first.
- Be sure to also wash your hands afterward, or use hand sanitizer.
How to take off a face mask?
- Wash your hands well or use hand sanitizer before you take off the mask,
- Avoid touching the mask itself as it could be contaminated. Hold it by the loops, ties, or bands only.
- Carefully remove the mask from your face once you:
- Unhook both ear loops, or
- Untie the bottom bow first, followed by the top one, or
- Remove the bottom band first by lifting it over your head, and then do the same with the top band.
Holding the mask loops, ties, or bands, discard the mask by placing it in a covered trash bin.
After removing the mask, wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer.
Disposal of the used face mask
Masks are medical wastes and must be treated as such. Different germs can survive on a used mask for different durations.
Used masks should not be thrown indiscriminately in protected areas, workplaces, homes or open dust bins as they can pose a potential health hazard to people who come in contact with such masks.
Also, some people can pick them for reuse/sale hence putting their lives in danger.
- Surgical masks are disposable/single-use only.
- Fold used masks inwards to ensure droplets are not exposed.
- Used masks should not be disposed of in the field or into open dustbins.
- The used mask should be placed in polythene bags (a biohazard bag is preferred) and burnt to ash.
- Reusable masks should be washed thoroughly with soap, dried and disinfected before re-use.