UWA releases guidelines for tourism activities to control spread of Covid-19 to animals

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has released guidelines that will followed by tourists and those working in national parks in order to control the spread of Covid-19 to animals in national parks.

Here is the full list of all the guidelines released by UWA

GUIDELINES AND COVID-19 MEASURES FOR HANDLING TOURISM SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES AT THE HEADQUARTERS AND PROTECTED AREAS (DRAFT)

PRESENTED TO TMM BY THE UWA TASKFORCE ON COVID-19 22 MAY, 2020

PURPOSE OF THE GUIDELINES

Both the Uganda Wildlife Act, 2019 and the Wildlife Policy 2014 provide for conservation and sustainable management of wildlife resources, coordination, monitoring and supervision of activities related to wildlife management in Uganda. This mandate is legally vested in UWA. In order to carry out its mandate UWA relies heavily (95%) on internally generated revenue from tourism revenues. However, the parks have been closed to tourism due to the current COVID pandemic and lockdown measures instituted by H.E the president. UWA has therefore made guidelines for the different activities along the tourism chain to ensure that following the resumption of tourism activities in the various protected areas, all our visitors and staff are safe from COVID-19 and that we do not register any case within our estates

SCOPE OF THE GUIDELINES

These guidelines cover management the different touch points of tour operators and visitors planning visit, or visiting our protected areas and engaging in the various tourism activities and using the different services that UWA offers. The guidelines are for touch points both at Headquarters and in the national parks and wildlife reserves.

KEY AREAS

1. TOURISM INFORMATION CENTERS AND RESERVATIONS OFFICE

i. All Staff and visitors shall wear the right face masks that have been prescribed by MoH (Visitors will carry their own masks while staff masks will be provided by the UWA)

ii. At the Headquarters reservations office, a tent shall be provided in the upper garden to act as a waiting area for the clients. The sitting arrangement will be in such a way that social distancing is observed and that all are facing seated facing in the same direction

iii. To ensure the smooth flow of visitors in (ii) above we shall use a First In First Out (FIFO) mechanism and in the absence of a queuing machine, one ranger from law enforcement will be provided to guide with the movement of the visitors as well as enforce all other guidelines (washing hands, distancing, masks)

iv. Only 5 visitors will be allowed to enter the reservations office at a go so as to enforce social distancing measure

v. At the Information centres in the different CAs and towns where visitors are not as much, we shall allow only one client to enter at a time. The rest will be provided with chairs to wait from outside while observing social distancing

vi. Staff should inform the visitor of the general government approved covid operational guidelines

vii. Staff shall explain to the visitor the UWA safety COVID measures (DOs and DONTs) during their tour and stay within the protected areas.

viii. The above guidelines (vi and vii) shall be made visible at all customer interaction touch points and digitally

ix. A manageable limited number (5 visitors) should be allowed into the reservations office

2. PARK ACCESS AND EXIT

i The tourists shall be required to provide a certificate that shows that they are COVID negative, either provided by our MoH or the relevant authority from the country most recently visited

ii. All tourists shall be expected to come with their own masks and wear them as prescribed by MoH and in the rightful areas. Tourists to BINP, KNP, and Kyambura shall be required to have N95

iii. Temperature screening will be done at the key tourism gates of the different National Park

iv. Those with temperatures above 37.6 degrees Celsius shall not be allowed into the protected areas and shall be advised to seek medical help through the mechanisms set up by MoH in the different districts.

v. Every tourist shall have wash and disinfect their hands at all entry points to the protected areas. Sanitary alcohol sanitizer dispensers as well as hand washing facilities with soap shall be installed at all entry points.

vi. All common areas with heavy tourist contact shall be disinfected regularly before, and during visiting hours. These include information counters, service desks, waiting areas, park offices and toilets. Toilets in particular should be cleaned at least every 2 hours

vii. All rangers and clerks at the entry gates shall be required to wear facemasks when dealing with tourists.

viii. Where applicable, transparent screens will be fitted at all, park gate counters

ix. The staff manning the gate will only allow visitors who have the prescribed face masks and who have washed/ sanitised to enter the park

x. All staff will be trained on the use of the masks, infrared thermometers and other general measures required when handling tourists

3. TOURIST VEHICLES AND BOATS WITHIN THE NATIONAL PARK

i The National guidelines issued by MoH shall be enforced by tourists while in visiting the National Parks i.e

• Saloon cars – 3 persons (This does not include the guide, where one is requested and paid for)
• Buses, mini buses and omnibuses – Half capacity
• Overlanders – Half capacity
• Concessionaire delivery vehicles, pick-ups and lories – 2 persons
• Private boats and launches – Half capacity
• Tour operator game drive vehicles and UWA owned game drive vehicles – 6 persons

ii. Social distancing should be observed within the vehicles

iii. Tour operators and service providers will be regularly reminded to disinfect their cars regularly

iv. UWA owned vehicles will be washed everyday before use and disinfected daily through spray pumps

v. Every protected area shall provide a safe location where this spraying can be done, and where they tour operators can also park their cars to disinfect the

vi. All tour operators shall be encouraged to provide their drivers with an alcohol rub/hand sanitizer for frequently or alternatively wear gloves. Caution should however be taken to remove this sanitiser whenever the car is parked

vii. All other precautionary measures have to be enforced ie washing hands, social distancing and cautiously using masks

4. KEY TOURISM ACTIVITIES

Briefing of tourists

i Before engaging in any tourism activities, the tourists shall be given the usual briefing regarding the activities they are about to engage in. In addition to this, the guides shall remind the tourists about the risk / looming dangers of covid and brief them on the general preventative measures government has instituted and the measure they will be expected to abide by while in the Protected Areas, and remind them that it’s both for their safety and that of the wildlife.

ii. These guidelines and measures shall also be printed and displayed in key visible areas within the park such as the briefing areas, the gates, the information centres, the canteens, to mention but a few.

Gorilla and Chimpanzee Tracking

The existing gorilla and chimpanzee tracking rules and guidelines (see annex) will remain in force to prevent any human to animal transmissions. These include

• 8 and 6 tourists will be allowed to track the gorillas and chimpanzees respectively
• The tourists must keep 7m away from the gorillas and chimpanzees
• Tourists who during the briefing are observed to be overly coughing shall not be allowed to track
• Tourists who during the briefing are observed to be sick shall not be allowed to track. These include tourists with signs flu, and those who report to have diarrhoea and stomach upsets, malaria etc

ii. While the forests are dense and don’t have any specific trails for tracking, the assigned UWA guides shall try as humanly possible to ensure that there is social distancing among the tourists while the tracking takes place

iii. The tourists shall be encouraged to carry light equipment to minimise the need for potters while they undertake the tracking. This will be communicated to potential tourists through the tour operators and other fora

iv. Due to the reported side effects of putting on masks for long periods and in high altitudes, the number of breaks during the tracking shall be doubled to give tourists time to breathe fresh air.

v. During these breaks, social distancing should be observed

Game Drives

i The regular park rules shall appy

ii. The vehicle guidelines above shall also apply

iii. Where a guide is requested, the guide shall sit at the front and shall continuously remind the tourists about the need to social distance

iv. Masks shall be worn at all time

v. Where a tourists gets side effects due to putting on a mask for a long time, the tourist shall inform the guide who will find a safe and secure place to park the vehicle and allow for the tourists to get fresh air while maintaining social distance

Boat Cruises

i The regular park rules shall appy

ii. The boat and launches guidelines above shall also apply
iii. The UWA owned boats must be cleaned and disinfected everday before any boat cruise activity

iv. The concessionaire shall also be required to clean and disinfect their baots everyday before any boat activities

v. The guide shall enforce social distancing while on the boat.

vi. Masks shall be worn at all time while on the boat

vii. Where a tourists gets side effects due to putting on a mask for a long time, the tourist shall inform the guide who will find space within the boat for this cliemt to get some fresh air for a few minutes. This shall be away from the other tourists

Large groups and Events Large groups such as school groups shall be subjected to the following guideline…..

Other Activities

All tourism activities with in the procted areas shall be enforced in a manner that ensures all guidelines are adhered to

5. ACCOMMODATION, RESTAURANTS AND CURIO SHOPS

All our UWA owned accommodations, restaurants, canteens and shops together with all concessionaire accommodations and services shall be run in a manner that provides a safe environment both for staff and tourists as per the guidelines and measures designed by MTWA and UTB (See attached annex). The UWA PA COVID taskforce shall ensure the implementation and enforcement of these guidelines, which include among others:

i Having a covid committee that enforces all the measures in the accommodation facilities and monitors the tourists

ii. Ensuring social distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene measures at all the accommodations

iii. Ensuring that the necessary equipment an medical kits are provided by the facilities

iv. Ensuring all technical and maintenances services such as dish washing and laundry equipment, dispensers are regularly checked and cleaned

v. Ensuring that restaurants, breakfast and dining rooms and bars are enforcing observing social distancing and hygiene measures such as hand washing and sanitising

vi. Ensuring that housekeeping and cleaning is done regularly, with emphasis on disinfecting the different surfaces

6. ADHERENCE TO NATIONAL GUIDELINES AND DIRECTIVES.

Notwithstanding these Guidelines, all Guidelines and Directives issued from time to time by MoH on COVID-19 hall supersede these guidelines and shall be observed to the dot.

7. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN IMPLEMENTING THE GUIDELINES

i Top Management: Provide oversight and direction in day to day management of Tourism activities as well as sponsor the acquisition of long term technology based measures such as the booking and reservations system and the digitising of the park gates, and provide all the necessary resources to enforce the measures

ii) UWA Task Force on COVID-19: Review the current situation in all UWA estates and advises the Executive Director on matters of prevention and management of COVID-19.

iii) PA Task Force on Covid-19: Address field specific issues and coordinate with the UWA HQ Task Force

iv) Chief Wardens: Ensure that management of tourism activities in the Protected Areas are properly done and in a safe manner as per the guidelines, and provide all the necessary resources to enforce the measures

v) Law Enforcement Manager: Coordinate and ensure that the guidelines issued are being adhered to by both the staff and the tourists to the dot

vi) Human Resources Manager: Have oversight over staff issues and coordinate emergency health services