BOTSWANA – Botswana has eased up COVID-19 prevention measures for travelers in government’s push for a return to normalcy after two grueling years of the pandemic.

The country now allows unvaccinated travelers into the country as long as they produce a negative COVID-19 test and comply with the required testing requirements to ensure smooth entry for travelers.

The move comes at a time when Botswana health authorities have reported that they have vaccinated more than 71% of the adult population which is one of the highest vaccination rates on the continent.

Previously, travelers were denied entry if partially vaccinated or unvaccinated and not willing to get a free COVID-19 shot as a precative measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

The former definition of full vaccination included the requirement that any international traveler wishing to enter Botswana should have taken a booster shot in addition to the primary vaccination.

If a person has completed the primary vaccine series, they will be considered sufficient for one to be allowed entry into Botswana without the need to present a negative PCR test result.

Those who are partially vaccinated or not vaccinated at all are required to present a negative 72-hour PCR test result in addition to undergoing Covid-19 testing at the port of entry at their own cost.

Botswana Ministry of Health Spokesperson Christopher Nyanga stressed that it is only when one is not fully vaccinated and is also not willing to undergo COVID-19 testing at the port of entry that they will be charged and fined or taken to a court of law.

“If negative, they will be allowed to proceed into the country while if positive, they will be isolated in the district of the port of entry, at their own cost and allowed to proceed into the country only after recovery,” the spokesman outlined.

He said that the vaccine validity discord was taken into consideration when dropping the vaccine mandate due to discordant periods for taking booster shots between Botswana and other countries.

For instance, there was confusion over what determined a fully vaccinated person since in Botswana, the vaccine validity period is 180 days while Europe gives the same vaccines a 270-day validity period.

Spokesperson Christopher added that for purposes of smoothening international travel, the definition of being fully vaccinated in Botswana will no longer include a booster shot.

The government’s move is also in line with the human rights organization Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV-AIDS concern that the response to COVID-19 does not necessarily require for criminalization to be used as a strategy.

The organization warned that restricting entry to the unvaccinated is actually a violation of people’s rights.

It acknowledged that it was only reasonable for the government to retract its previous guidelines and remove the barring of people who are not vaccinated into Botswana.

Moreover, Botswana’s tourism industry has suffered huge losses with canceled bookings worth US$10 million since the introduction of COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Feb 14th 2021.

The easing of COVID-19 entry requirements is expected to improve the situation by attracting more tourist into the country which the economy can heavily benefit from.

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