COVID-19: Uganda reopens borders after 6-month closure

A worker disinfects a bus as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 at the Namirembe Bus Park in Kampala, Uganda.

AFP/Badru Katumba

KAMPALA - Uganda has reopened to international visitors bearing a negative COVID-19 certificate, President Yoweri Museveni has said, six months after the country sealed its borders to contain the pandemic.

"The international airport and land borders will now be opened for tourists" provided they test negative for the virus 72 hours before arrival in Uganda and efforts are made to minimise their interaction with the public at large, Museveni said Sunday.

Business travellers must meet the same requirements, he said in a televised address to the nation.

Ugandans returning from abroad will be allowed to proceed home without quarantining as long as they also possess a negative test result.

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Uganda took drastic measures to restrict movements in March when it had only a handful of coronavirus cases.

The East African nation imposed one of the earliest lockdowns and border closures on the continent.

Borders remained open to truck freight, but this emerged as a major source of infection, prompting Uganda to begin refusing drivers entry if they tested positive.

The country gradually eased some lockdown measures in recent months, despite a rising number of new infections after a slow start.

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Museveni said an overnight curfew from 9 pm to 6 am would remain in place.

Bars, gyms and cinemas will remain closed for now, but outdoor sports will be allowed to resume as long as the players test negative for the virus and there are no spectators, he said.

Places of worship are allowed to hold prayers, but with the number of worshippers capped at 70.

The number of new infections has slowly climbed in recent weeks, with authorities blaming complacency and fatigue over social distancing measures.