Last updated September 24, 2020

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Spring 2021 — Yellow

Uganda has used their past experience of handling other outbreaks to do quite well managing cases of COVID-19 — trends on reported cases are heading in the right direction, which is really good news. While we had heard about an announcement happening in July about flights and reopening schools, the government recently announced that they are pushing back their decision until September 30th. It’s an announcement we’re anxiously awaiting especially since it could be a deciding factor for a semester here for Spring 2021.

Check below to get more details on some key aspects that we’re watching. Each of these components help us determine when we’ll be able to send volunteers to Uganda again (it’s stuff you’re going to want to know). Also, this info can change often. Our goal is to keep things current with weekly updates, so check back frequently.

Getting There

Airports and entry to Uganda by foreigners is currently not allowed. The government has pushed back their decision date on opening airports until September 30th.

We expect that travelers from low-infection countries will be allowed entry without quarantine and travellers from high-infection countries (like the US) may be allowed entry with a 14-day quarantine at home after arrival. We’ll wait for the government announcement and post updates as soon as it is made.

Visas for foreigners are not being processed because entry to Uganda is barred. We hope that’ll be changing soon. 

Airports are closed to international travel. The government is expected to make some policy changes in September and we will be updating this section as soon as that happens.

Daily Life

Uganda has seen its fair share of outbreaks before Covid-19: Ebola, Measles, Yellow Fever, and the Marburg Virus, just to name a few. Experts are saying their past experience is part of the reason they were so prepared and have seen success minimizing a COVID-19 outbreak. The country fairly recently saw its first deaths, something other countries experienced much earlier in the virus.

Currently (as of September 28th), Uganda has an average of 8 active cases per 100,000 people.  

Testing equipment and capabilities are available in Uganda, unlike some other African countries.

With the anticipated government announcement happening in September  it is expected that schools (which are closed now) will be opened in phases starting with older children and gradually working toward younger children.

Most businesses are open and some public transport options are, too. Shopping malls are not open, but the souvenir market in Kampala that ILP volunteers love to visit is already up and running! We’re seeing a mixed bag of things currently open, but are happy to see some of our favorite things to do in Uganda are available or are projected to be available soon.

Out & About

Limited self-quarantine measures are still in place, but expectations are high for these restrictions to end soon when the government makes its next announcement (that’s happening sometime in September … can tell you we’re excited for these anticipated changes?).

In-country travel is allowed which means you’re fine to white-water raft the Nile river, abseil down Sipi Falls, spot elephants, giraffes, lions, and more on safari, and do a few other favorite in-country adventures.

Over the summer, officials from the European Union have declared Uganda’s parks as officially open to tourism after making symbolic visits this last weekend. The African country’s tourism industry is now just waiting on the government to open up flights and airspace. While most of the tourism attractions (like those sprawling safari parks) are open, they need airlines to start bringing in travelers.

Some nearby countries have opened their borders but because Uganda has barred entry of foreigners, out-of-country travel would not be allowed. But, we’re waiting for the government announcement in September that could change that.

Okay, now what?  Should I still apply for Uganda

If you’re thinking “that’s all really good to know, but what does that mean for me?” we have some good news to share: time is still totally on your side.

We’ve seen policies change without notice that have made the difference between us thinking we’ll need to wait longer and helping us determine that a Spring 2021 semester in that location is something we’re pretty optimistic about. Sometimes that has happened in the span of just a couple of weeks or even in a single day. Departures for Spring 2021 are still months off and a lot could be decided before departing … and even more could change for Summer 2021 volunteers. 

So we say start your application now so that you’re ready when the time comes. We are going to need volunteers who are ready to go right when things change for the better, which is why we think it’s a good idea to have your application in (even if things potentially look uncertain right now). Time really is on your side.

We’re also here for all of your questions. We’d love to talk about deferring to a later semester if things still need more time or finding a country right now that’ll be a good fit for you. You can bet that once things open up, you’ll be the first to know!