The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) says the new public health regulations, which will expire on 30 June 2021, do not in any way hamper or restrict the government’s ongoing tourism revival initiative.
In light of the unfolding trajectory of the pandemic in the country and the imperative to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of Namibians, the public health regulations, which were announced on 28 May and set to expire on 30 June, have been amended.
President Hage Geingob on Tuesday explained the aim of this adjustment is to break the momentum of the pandemic, currently characterised by ‘Widespread Community Transmission’ in Namibia.
The adjustments came into force yesterday for a period of 14 days until 30 June 2021.
In the new regulations under the prohibition on movement of persons into or from restricted areas, stipulate that a person may not enter into or depart from a restricted area, unless that person is a tourist entering for tourism purposes and the person has presented a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result on entry into Namibia.
To dissect on this, NTB chief executive officer (CEO) Digu //Naobeb said the regulations seek to clarify that tourists are welcome to Namibia as long they provide a negative PCR Covid-19 test not older than seven days upon arrival.
“The regulations are more flexible and accommodative to the tourism revival initiative. Tourists are encouraged to travel to Namibia as long as they present a negative PCR Covid test not older than seven days,” //Naobeb clarified.
He explained tourists have the right to exit or enter and continue their tours within Namibia from the restricted areas; Windhoek, Okahandja and Rehoboth.
“If they do depart, then they need to conform to the regulations of their destination of origin which we do not have as a country or have control over,” said //Naobeb.
To contain the further spread of the disease, exit and entry into the Windhoek-Okahandja-Rehoboth local authority areas is restricted.
With exception for returning residents; essential service providers in possession of the relevant permit; emergency medical cases and the transportation of human remains to other regions for burial purposes, will be allowed.
As long as restaurants are concerned, //Naobeb said those in lodges and hotels, would be able to have their meals and drinks as long as the curfew hours is maintained and they don’t violate the use of alcohol as indicated in the regulations.
Another issue he touched is the Namibian foreign missions which he says are not aligning the regulations to ensure consistency.
//Naobeb said it is advisable for the international relations ministry to package appropriate messages to assist in this regard for the foreign missions abroad.
He advised tourists to always travel with their itineraries and confirmation of bookings at accommodation establishments they will be using.
Such documents should be presented at any roadblock when asked to be identified as tourists who have been permitted to exit or enter restricted areas.
“This will prevent people who are illegally trying to circumvent these regulations. Therefore, tourists are implored to be cautious and have their documentation ready and handy at all times. Namibia is open for them and they are most welcome to travel to Namibia and enjoy our beautiful destination,” he said.
The Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) CEO, Gitta Paetzold said the tourism sector has full understanding and sympathy for the very difficult situation Namibia finds itself in at present.
However, she raised issue with the additional requirement now for tourists to re-test after their valid negative PCR test with which they entered Namibia lapses.
“We fear this puts unnecessary burden on our already limited test capacity in the country. The additional logistical challenges to find available testing stations across the country is already now adding speed to the flood of cancellations we saw coming in since yesterday [Wednesday] due to the uncertainty about the impact of the new measures on the tourism sector, a huge loss once again for the struggling sector,” Paetzold said.