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UWEC Re-opens After Five Months

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Lilly Ajarova, the UTB Chief Executive Officer, who was part of the delegation that toured the center, says that they were satisfied that the center will be able to implement the COVID-19 preventive measures that include screening all guests, enforcing and hand washing at major entry points among other procedures.
Entrance rates for various visitors at UWEC. UWEC wants to halt admission of unbooked visitors due to COVID-19 concerns
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre–UWEC has reopened after spending five months under lock and key following the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease-COVID-19 in the country.  The center, which has over 600 animal and bird species, was closed on March 27th.  

The reopening of the center comes a day after the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Tom Butime and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) officials inspected it to ascertain its preparedness to resume operations.  

  

Lilly  Ajarova, the UTB Chief Executive Officer,  who was part of the delegation that toured the center, says that they were satisfied that the center will be able to implement the COVID-19 preventive measures that include screening all guests, enforcing and hand washing at major entry points among other procedures.

        

She says the National COVID-19 Taskforce spearheaded by the Office of the Prime Minister recently approved Standard Operating Procedures for all agencies and activities under the tourism sector including UWEC. The tourism sector is now open for business, with all stakeholders expected to observe the procedures," Ajarova said. 

  

UWEC will now be open to the public from 8:30am to 5pm every day. However, impromptu visitors have been banned from accessing the center to avoid congestion. The center will limit the number of visitors to ensure social distancing and regular disinfection of public spaces. 

It will admit only 300 visitors a day. However, only 100 people will access the center at a given time.  Only visitors aged 7 years and above will be allowed because they must wear face masks. Visitors will also not be allowed to interact with wildlife, especially animals and will only be allowed on condition that they make cashless payments. 

The center has however maintained the entrance fees at Shillings 5,000 and 10,000 for children under 14 years and adults respectively who are East Africans. Foreigners will pay between Shillings 18,000 to 55,000 to access the center.

UWEC used to receive an average of 400,000 visitors every year especially foreigners and school-going children. However, the UWEC Managing Director, James Musinguzi recently told the media that the numbers will drop because of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, particularly due to global travel restrictions.

Musinguzi also noted that the closure of the center resulted in a budget shortfall of Shillings 1.5 billion for the last quarter of the 2019/2020 financial year.  He however, said the center received Shillings 750 million from government and donations from well-wishers to take care of the animals and bird species during the lockdown.