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Entebbe Airport gears up for re-opening

A man cleans the immigration section of Entebbe International Airport in April, this year. The airport has been closed since March 22. COURTESY PHOTO.

Tough new COVID-19 measures for travellers

Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Going through Entebbe International Airport has always been a rough experience for the average traveller but COVID-19 prevention protocols could make your check-in and check-out even more cumbersome.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc around the world and grounded thousands of airlines, travellers going through Entebbe were expected to arrive three hours early to undergo stringent security checks.

In March, President Yoweri Museveni directed the closure of Entebbe Airport and other entry/exits into and out of the country to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The directive was initially for 32 days but has since been extended indefinitely after several extensions of the lockdown.

But, as re-opening gets closer, passengers who had got used to airport security officials rummaging their packages and bags, removing belts and shoes before being subjected to thorough body checks, look set for even tougher times. For a start, passengers will have to arrive at least four hours before their flight.

Besides going through a long health check, wearing face masks at all times, maintaining social distance, washing hands and using sanitisers will be mandatory. Passengers with any of the symptoms of the novel coronavirus will be blocked from accessing the airport.

Dr. Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health said Aug.3 that the setting up of the strict measures were designed to allow airlines return to the skies, keep travelers safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“You will be expected to have a valid COVID-19 certificate issued within 48 hours from where you are coming, and on arrival, we shall still take your COVID-19 samples,” Vianney Luggya, the publicist for the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) told The Independent recently, “You may have done the testing where you are coming from but it is mandatory that we still test you on arrival.”

Luggya told The Independent that the airport authorities have borrowed and domesticated several standard operating procedures from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Airports Council International, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Africa Civil Aviation Commission and the Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency.

“We have domesticated these guidelines into protocols that will apply when passenger operations resume,” Luggya told The Independent, “There is emphasis on wearing masks by passengers and staff.”

The airport authorities have already erected tents for health screening of incoming passengers while designated tents have also been erected for people with symptoms.  Ugandans returning from abroad have already been screened in these areas.

Other SoPs developed by UCAA include; installation of automated sanitisers at strategic points at the airport to ensure social distancing, deployment of temperature guns, and three ultra-modern scans which detect temperature at a 30-metre distance.

These will be installed in the waiting lounges and rooms of Very Important Persons (VIPs). Glass shields to minimize contact between the passengers are also being installed while taps in the washrooms have been changed to non-touch faucets.

Luggya told The Independent that there are also plans to put in place automated non-touch doors in the passenger access areas. The pre-boarding lounges which for a long time have been small partitioned zones will be torn down to create more space for passengers. “Some of the changes are immediate while other interventions are medium term,” Luggya said.

Located 47km south of Uganda’s capital, Entebbe Airport is the main gateway into Uganda and boasts more than 70% of passenger arrivals into the country and supports many businesses in the importation of raw materials and export of Uganda’s goods and agricultural produce.

The new protocols found Entebbe Airport already undergoing several upgrades. Work on expanding the cargo centre is still ongoing but the old runway (1230) is ready to handle airlines.

The government closed Entebbe Airport on March 22 effectively prohibiting passenger flights coming from outside the country from landing. This was one of the measures put in place to prevent the introduction of the coronavirus in the country. Only cargo and UN aircraft were allowed to fly in and out of Uganda.

46 comments

  1. Annette Nakibuule

    Thank you for the great work at the airport. We pray the government opens up soon coz our businesses are going down.

  2. We are waiting the date of opening because some of us we came here in terms of vacation from abroad but because of Covid19 we are still stuck here in Uganda,,, and our Visas is going to be expiring,,,hope govt is planning to open soon

    • Bro wakeup people are coming back here in UAE if your resident better wakeup go in town n check up flights r there

  3. We are waiting until museveni Decide

  4. Thanks for the info

  5. Can’t wait the day of re opening because am stuck here and my visa now is expired

  6. Waiting to see it happening

  7. When are we hoping to hear it’s reopening sir,? I really need to come back because I’m stranded and no working since February and you can imagine ☹️☹️

  8. I lost my job here in Duba on 1st April until now am here sitting am praying they open soon thanks for the update

  9. Christine katende

    Please help us to reopen,we are stranded,we need to get back home,

  10. we really appreciate the good work done by his excellency i salute you and am looking forward to hear its finally open and i pray too that whenever our destinations we will have a credit on the way our health team for the great roll bravo

  11. True we need it reopened, we are stuck and home sick,

    Businesses r dying. Hope in the next Sevo can hear this from the crying Bazukulu

  12. So Ugandan government needs a whole year to reopen the airport. Stop behaving like some 20th century leaders! Oooh no, i forgot, papa Museveni doesn’t even belong close to today’s century! Is he watching the developing news in Mali? Fungua airport. We’re sick and tired.

    • @ally vicky get informed and stop comparing Mali with Uganda you have no Knowledge of the internal situation of this nation since 2012 ( last coup) and today situation .
      Mr Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has chosen Life instead of Money ….

  13. Thanks for everything, but we are just waiting for the reopening because we are stranded herr

  14. Kukunda Patience

    Thanks alot for the great work Sir
    We really appreciate
    Can’t wait for the re-opening of the airport because some of us are yearning to start our internship that is if institutions are also opened.
    Thanks.

  15. This is great, let the president think about us and open the airport. As taxi drivers, we are jobless and home seated. Even our brothers and sisters are just stuck in other countries

  16. Great, but be warned ,covid 19 is spreading like wild fire at the moment.Ugandans take things for granted!most people think this is a joke. I’m afraid it’s not.

  17. Honestly, good work has been done and we applaud those responsible. Even then, let’s admit that m7 and his people can do so much better. The impact of closed airports has not been properly weighed if not overlooked given the that these measures could have been implemented much sooner.
    But what can we say?
    Like our Indian colleagues say, “This is Uganda” and like Ugandans say, “Uganda Zaabu”.
    If you know, you know.

    • How many other countries do you know that have completely opened their airports?
      In the whole of Africa we have only 4.
      We all feel stuck, but you can only travel when you are alive.
      I’d rather wait a little longer and be safe.

      • You make a good point. If we focus on life preservation, we may as well put everything else to a halt until the virus goes away. But it’s not going anywhere. We have to adopt and be at par with the situation. There is already a working solution for Covid-19, if it were not the case, then we would have zero recoveries but we have had many recoveries over 1000 according MOH. We have been programmed to wait to be told that there is a pharmaceutical cure.
        Yes, Covid-19 is deadly but so is typhoid, malaria and other diseases not to mention hunger. We have lived with these in the same way. We must try to think objectively.

  18. Please open the airports for on going and incoming passengers to travel. We desperately waiting for the day it opens. Please help us.

  19. May almighty God help us

  20. Thanks for the great work I’ve appreciated just waiting for the reopening day coz I’m stuck I wanna come back to Uganda

  21. My husband is stuck in UK he wants to come back but am still waiting for the day that you are going to open so that he can be able to come back

  22. Plz open the Airport, many people are stuck they want to cme back home. Afterall most Airports are open, we will learn to live with Corona bse it wont go now.

  23. We just pray the airport gets opened again

  24. Mr. President we applaud you for all that you are doing. However,we need you to please come to our rescue on the situations abroad especially in Dubai. The Ugandan Consulate is hard to assess online( emails sent acknowledged but not responded to) and on telephone, When you finally go through all sorts of excuses are given. We not sure whether we have been registered because we have no email to prove that we have even after all the requested documents have been submitted! All you hear them say when you finally go through we will call you when the next flight is available only to see on the news that a flight from dubai landed! We are frustrated and I hope you really intervene. There should be priority cases to be considered! Whoever is incharge of the consulate is either not in the know or doesn’t care period! Since April been contacting them till date no flight for me! No one seems to tell you which number you are since they claim registration is for first come basis!
    With this in mind you should also consider reopening so dt we can freely come back home without going through the embassy because it’s tidious and stressful! Are we supposed to pay any money for registration because if it’s the reason y we are being delayed then we ought to be told!

  25. Banange any lugambo about the opening of the airport.Please help us

  26. Masereka Hanington

    The airport should be re-opened and we see how international tourism resumes. we are stack in the tourism industry since the government had forgotten to encourage domestic tourism. Eeeeeeh loans

  27. Akugizibwe Lillian

    Your right 💯% it’s not going anywhere we have to learn how to deal with it.

  28. NEW JOB OPENING IN 🇨🇦
    DUBAI AND CANADA 🇨🇦
    Drop your whatsApp number
    +12045146622

  29. We praise God to do some miracles on this covid19 because it is making people to be poor.

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