A STEADY slowdown in coronavirus cases has prompted the government to open Tanzania's airspace for commercial, diplomatic, aid, emergency and special mission flights with effect from yesterday.
The Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Eng Isack Kamwelwe told reporters yesterday that the decision to uplift the initial temporary ban has been reached after considering all important measures and the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
He said the government has conducted thorough investigation and evaluation of the novel Coronavirus as well as control measures over the spread of the disease.
In April, this year, the government suspended all international flights as one of the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The airlines however, must ensure that all passengers have medical certificates that clear them of the coronavirus infection.
The government has come up with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to ensure they protect both the public and visitors from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The minister said after close monitoring of the trend of the disease in the country and taking into consideration the statistics released by President John Magufuli on Sunday.
He said it was clear the number of new cases was going down, and thus the government has decided to open up the space to allow international flights from various parts of the world.
"With this announcement, all international flights are allowed to land and take off from today in our airports across the country," he explained.
However, the minister said the government is seriously adhering to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as preventive measures and directives issued by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.
The minister directed the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) to inform the world aviation body on the government decision to open up its air space.
He added that the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) and Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO) must set up plans that will ensure close cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children in handling the airlines and all passengers who will jet in with tourists.
Furthermore, Eng Kamwelwe directed the national flag carrier, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) to come up with a strong plan that will help it to resume routes.
The minister said the opening of the air space also opens up other sectors especially the tourism sector, which is crucial for the country's economic growth.
"I would like to inform all stakeholders in the tourism sector that business is now coming to normal, the important thing is to observe health guidelines by taking precautions against the virus," he noted.
In another move, the Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Dr Hamis Kigwangalla said the opening of the air space also means special invitation to tourists from across the World.
"Effective from today, all tourists are cleared to enter the country, they are most welcome," said Dr Kigwangalla.
He said all precaution measures are well communicated to the hospitality industry operators so that both tourists and service providers enjoy the natural beauty that the country is endowed with.
In another development, Eng Kamwelwe said they have reached an agreement with Rwanda that all cargoes that are routed to Kigali will be loaded and offloaded at the identified border post.
The minister said the decision followed a meeting between the two governments, which took place from May 6 to 15, this year to deliberate on a number of issues pertaining to the transportation of cargo and trucks.
From yesterday, he said, all cargo to Rwanda will be offloaded at Rusumo and Kagitumba and offloaded to other vehicles in the neighbouring country.
Meanwhile, the government through the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children has issued new travel guidelines that allow travels to enter into the country without being subjected to 14-day mandatory quarantine.
Minister Ummy Mwalimu said in a travel advisory that the decision has been reached after the country recorded a steady slowdown in corona cases. However, the Minister said all travelers should observe adherence to prevention and control measures such as hand hygiene, wearing facemasks and maintaining social distancing as proposed.
The Minister added that all travelers are required to truthfully fill out travelling surveillance from available onboard or in any other transport means and submit to Port Health Authorities upon arrival.
Moreover, all arriving and departing conveyances must provide advance passenger information so as to allow the points of entry authorities to scrutinize the manifest for possible high-risk passengers.