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On Tuesday 28th December 2021, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) confirmed that the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) had banned direct flights from Uganda following the rapid spread of COVID-19 variant Omicron in the country.

In a statement issued by UCAA on their Twitter account, the organisation said that; “UAE has temporarily suspended flights from Uganda to Dubai until further notice. Incoming Emirates flights from Dubai are still operational. Passengers planning to travel to Dubai are advised to contact their respective airlines for guidance on any changes in the restrictions.”

UAE also suspended flights from Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria to tighten the ban on Uganda. Passengers who were transited through these four countries in the last 14 days are not allowed to enter Dubai.

This left many travelers stranded at Entebbe International Airport especially nationals who were travelling to UAE for work under various recruitment agencies.

One of the recruitment agencies, KHM international consultants in their statement expressed how the ban affected their clients whose flights were scheduled for this week. This indicates that the ban is affecting various sectors and businesses in the region, that’s the aviation industry, tourism sector(tourists scared off by the pandemic in the region) and the labour importation sectors which are big influencers on the economy of Uganda and the East African region.

Passengers Exempted from the Ban

Those exempted from the ban include employees of the Official Mission between UAE and the aforesaid nations, UAE nationals, 1st degree relatives and their domestic workers, members of the Diplomatic missions between UAE and the aforesaid nations, and lastly the holders of a UAE Golden Visa.

The exempted passengers must also follow certain rules, that is;- Present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate with a QR code for a test conducted at an approved facility within 48 hours of departure, must present a negative COVID-19 Rapid or Real Time PCR test certificate with a QR code for a test conducted at the departure airport within 6 hours of departure, undergo COVID-19 PCR test on arrival and must remain in self quarantine until they receive the test results.

Those planning to travel please check the requirements of the country your are departing from as you may need to take a particular type of COVID-19 test specified by your destination. - Katongole Andrew, Travel Radar

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