The Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC), a sanctuary with over 200 animal species is now re-open to the public after the government approved Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the tourism hub to resume operations.
In an event to launch the SOPs, Tom Butime, Minister of Tourism, wildlife, and Antiquities for Uganda was present to grace the event as the guest of honor. Among other guests at the event were, the Permanent Secretary, Entebbe Municipality Mayor, Chairperson UWEC, Executive Director UWEC, CEO Uganda Tourism Board, officials from the Ministry of Tourism and representatives from tourism enterprises, UWA representatives and various well-wishers.
Tom Butime highlighted that the Tourism industry in Uganda and elsewhere in the world has recorded heavy losses. In a bid to jumpstart the previously thriving industry that generated 1.6 billion in foreign exchange in 2019 and contributed 9% of the country’s GDP, business continuity and a sustainable plan has been developed to focus on a Health plan first, then recovery and finally enhanced destination marketing.
The center will be opened in a 5 phased manner. The first was the closure phase running from March to 7 August. This time period was utilized to make readjustments to the zoo in preparation for reopening, which is the second phase.
This starts from August to December with operation at 15% with only 100 people allowed per day without guides. The third is the Progressive phase, starting from December to March 2021 with operation at 30% and 600 people per day. The fourth which is the Recovery phase will have an operation at 60% with about 1200 per day. The last phase will be called the Truly operational phase between May and December 2021 with operation at 80% and an estimate of 1600 people per day. Before UWEC closed an average of 2000 people came through the gates daily.
Some of the SOPs in place include:
Ensure that branded face masks are in place. Face shields are mandatory for all UWEC workers. Biohazard bags in place and will be replaced daily.
Information Education and communication materials (IEC) on COVID-19 will be all over the whole facility. Hand sanitizers have been placed everywhere and disinfecting will happen for all surfaces every two hours. All persons entering UWEC will wash their hands with soap and running water. All vehicles entering UWEC will be disinfected with bleach in a handheld spray. Reusable equipment shall be disinfected at the end of every day. Temperature guns will be put at every entry points and those found with temp above 28 degrees C will be detained and reported to Entebbe Grade B hospital. 2-meter Social distance has been clearly marked by barriers and will be supervised. Social distance will also be emphasized for staff offices and accommodation facilities. A cashless system of payment will be encouraging while direct cash will be discouraged.