Tanzania reopens borders to international passenger flights

With most countries around the world enforcing partial or complete border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international passenger travel has all but grounded to a halt, affecting an estimated 91% of the world's population.

An Air Tanzania Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Photo by Team VT Aviation

However, the United Republic of Tanzania has gone against the grain and published its "Travel Advisory No. 3 of 18th May 2020." The country now permits foreigners and returning residents access, with enhanced screening at ports of entry and no 14 day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

This is a move informed by the country's confidence in a decreasing trend of COVID-19 cases, and in line with sentiments recently made by Tanzania's President John Magufuli, where he expressed the need for the country's economic considerations to take precedence over the current health crisis. He has however come under fire for his government's handling of the situation, which has been marked by a lack of transparency in the number of cases in the country, and lacklustre measures towards containing the spread of the virus such as keeping places of worship open.

In further explaining the updated directive, Tanzania's Minister of Works, Transport, and Communication Isack Kamwelwe directed the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, Tanzania Airports Authority, and Air Tanzania Company Limited to ensure the swift resumption of flights into the country and ensure their adherence to measures put in place by the Ministry of Health.

International travelers and conveyance operators (in this case pilots) have also been advised to "observe adherence to Infection Prevention and Control measures" including hand hygiene, wearing face masks, and maintaining social distance, and truthfully fill out the Travelers Surveillance Form onboard and submit to authorities upon arrival in Tanzania. Authorities also intend to carefully scrutinize flight manifests to identify possible high-risk passengers.

In a recent survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 84% of travelers had quarantine-on-arrival measures as a concern, while 69% said they would be unwilling to travel under such conditions. As international air travel slowly makes a comeback, it remains to be seen if a measure such as Tanzania's will gain widespread adoption.

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