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A section of Entebbe Airport

How Entebbe Airport is operating amidst Covid-19

“A passenger without the negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate will be denied entry and the Airline shall be obliged to take back the passenger,” UCAA says.
posted onNovember 9, 2020
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When Entebbe International Airport reopened to passenger flights on October 1 following months of closure due to the Covid-19-prompted lockdown, a number of SOPs were rolled out to facilitate the safe use of the airport.

But, according to the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), people continue to ask for clarity about some of these operating procedures, which evoked the Authority to release a statement explaining them (SOPs) in detail.

For instance, according to UCAA, passengers that are leaving Uganda need to arrive at the airport 4 hours before a scheduled flight's departure time.

They will then be subjected to temperature screening on entry to the airport and departure hall and they must wear a face mask appropriately within the Airport.

Passengers are also encouraged to sanitize after touching surfaces or documents and must present an authentic and valid negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test certificate issued within 120 hours before travel even if the country the passenger is going to does not require it.

According to UCAA, in case the destination country requires a COVID-19 PCR test certificate below 120 hours, the number of hours indicated by the destination country take priority.

At the airport, passengers must maintain a social distance of 1.5 meters apart from each other within the passenger terminal.

For passengers arriving into the country, most of the rules that apply in the departure case also apply here on top of other SOPs like having an authentic and valid negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test certificate from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin issued within 72 hours before boarding to Uganda.

“A passenger without the negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate will be denied entry and the Airline shall be obliged to take back the passenger,” UCAA says.

“If it is a returning Ugandan with an expired COVID-19 PCR test certificate, he/she will be allowed to enter the country, but shall have the test done and will be quarantined at their own cost till the results come out.”

The government was prompted to re-open the airport because of how it was affecting the tourism sector, which is the country's biggest foreign exchange earner.

In May, President Museveni announced that the country was set to lose $1.6 billion from the tourism sector since the airport had been shut from passenger flights and millions of tourists in the country are foreigners.

Uganda earned about Shs5. 8 trillion from tourism in the 2018/2019 financial year, making the sector the country's leading foreign currency earner for the fifth year in a row, according to government data.

The number of tourists in 2019 reached 1,505,669 up from 1,402,409 in 2017. In the FY2018/19, the tourism sector accounted for 7.7 percent of the national GDP and 6.7 percent of total national employment after creating 667,600 jobs.

Entebbe International Airport facilitated a total of 42,633 passengers both to and from Uganda in the month of October, the Saturday Monitor reported recently.

Since commercial passenger operations resumed at the airport on October 1, at least 23,867 passengers arrived in the country, 15,461others departed to other countries, while 3,305 were transit passengers, according to the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) records.

“The average number of passengers per day is so far about 1,400. In 2019, we registered a total of 1,980,000 international passengers, which is an average of about 5,400 passengers per day,” Vianney Luggya, the UCAA spokesperson, told the Saturday Monitor.

According to data from the ministry of health, Uganda has so far registered 14403 cases of Covid-19, 132 deaths and 7771 recoveries.

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