Uganda has taken one of the strictest stances on the African continent in efforts to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in the country. On May 4, 2020, the President of Uganda provided an updated statement on matters regarding COVID-19. According to the statement, a few essential industries and businesses are now allowed to operate. These include (i) agricultural farming; (ii) food markets; (iii) factories; (iv) wholesalers to supply to factories; (v) hardware shops to sell factory goods and supply construction sites; (vi) repair workshops (garages) to operate on the cargo trucks; (vii) metal and wood workshops; (viii) insurance providers; (ix) select lawyers; (x) restaurants; and (xi) warehouses.
Now that many businesses have been allowed to re-open, there are a few things you need to know.
How can my staff get to work?
With public and private transport still restricted in Uganda, employers are asked to shuttle their staff to work or encourage their staff to either cycle or walk to work.
What protective equipment should I provide my employees?
It is mandatory for all persons to wear face masks in public, therefore employees should ensure that their workers have the required protective gear.
My business interfaces with the public. What do I need to know?
If you have a business that’s open to the public, please ensure that your staff can safely remain 2 meters away from your customers. All customers who enter your facility must wear a mask. Please ensure that your customers have space and abide by the rule of remaining 4 meters apart from each other. Further, there is a concern that forced air will cause the virus to spread so shops should not operate air conditioning. For restaurants, only takeaway services can be provided at this time.
What should I do if an employee is suspected of having COVID-19?
As an employer, under the Public Health (Control of COVID- 19) Rule2 2020, you have a duty to notify a medical officer or medical practitioner if you believe one of your employees has COVID-19. Please call the Ministry of Health toll-free line on 919/ 0800 1000661/ 0800 203033, if you believe one of your employees should be checked.
If COVID-19 is confirmed, you can expect a site visit from a medical officer. They will assess the situation and may: (i) order all persons who have been in contact with the COVID-19 patient to remain at the premises; (ii) cause the staff who were in contact with the COVID-19 patient to be removed to a regional referral hospital or another suitable place for quarantine. Please note that the health inspector must have written instructions from a medical officer to conduct a search or inquiry.
I have to import/export or export goods and supplies to run my business. What do I need to know?
Public health (Prohibition of Entry into Uganda) Order, 2020. Businesses are allowed to import and export cargo only, through the different border posts in Uganda via vehicle, air or water transport. Only the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations are able to bring people or animals into Uganda at this time.
Public Health (Prevention of COVID-19) (Requirements and Conditions of Entry into Uganda) Order, 2020. At the border, all persons and cargo/vehicles/aircraft or vessels will be subjected to an examination conducted by the government medical officers of health. The medical officers of health have the power to isolate or quarantine the personnel, e.g. truck drivers, cargo crew. Upon examination, such personnel may be quarantined at a designated place or placed under observation for 14 days or more, while other personnel may be advised on the measures to take to avoid being infected with COVID-19. These interventions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 may result in delays for logistics; therefore, businesses should plan for this potential risk.
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