FG issues new Covid-19 travel protocol guideline for passengers, airlines effective April 4

The Federal Government through the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on Covid-19, has introduced a new international travel guideline for passengers and airlines.

In the new revised international travel guideline, the federal government removed the mandatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for fully vaccinated visitors and stiff penalties for unvaccinated travellers violating the new rules.

This new protocol is a revision of the travel protocol released on November 29, 2021.

This disclosure is contained in a circular titled, ‘Covid-19 Response: Provisional Travel Protocol for Travellers Arriving Nigeria’, which was issued on Sunday by the Chairman of PSC, Boss Mustapha, and is expected to take effect from Monday, April 4, 2022.

Mustapha, who also doubles as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) said that the new guidelines prescribed for fully vaccinated persons would apply to passengers between the ages of 10 and 18 years as well as also prescribing sanctions for airlines that bring violators of the new rules.

What the Chairman of PSC is saying about passengers arriving in Nigeria

Mustapha said that unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated international travelers would still be required to take the PCR test 48 hours before boarding a flight to Nigeria, noting that tests done more than 48 hours before departure is not valid and persons will not be allowed to board.

He said, “This protocol is a revision of the Travel Protocol released on 29th November 2021 Interim Travel Guidelines for Passengers arriving in Nigeria.

“In-bound passengers to Nigeria, who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, are no longer required to carry out COVID-19 PCR test before boarding Nigeria-bound flights.

“Fully vaccinated passengers arriving Nigeria will not also be required to carry out Post arrival PCR test or a Rapid Antigen Test upon arrival in Nigeria.

“Children below the age of 18 years will be accorded the same privileges as persons who are fully vaccinated.

“In-bound Passengers who are unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated for COVID-19 shall take a COVID-19 PCR test 48 hours before departure and undergo Days 2 and 7 post-arrival PCR tests at their own cost.

“All in-bound passengers MUST register via the online Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP– https://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng).’’

What the Chairman of PSC is saying about passengers travelling out of Nigeria

Mustapha noted that the guideline prescribes that all passengers travelling out of Nigeria should have evidence of full vaccination against Covid-19 as well as comply with the guidelines of their transit or destination countries.

He said passengers are “Encouraged to have evidence of full vaccination against COVID-19;

“Comply with the COVID-19 guidelines of their destination or transit countries; and

“Familiarise themselves with the COVID-19 travel requirements of their destination and transit countries before embarking on the journey.’’

On airlines that board violators of the guideline

Mustapha said in addressing the issue of airlines boarding violators of the guideline, he said, among other sanctions, such airlines would be fined US$3,500 for each violator and could be banned from flying into Nigeria.

He said, “Airlines that board travelers without the appropriate required documents; Vaccine certificate, a negative COVID-19 PCR test done not more than 48 hours prior to boarding, and a Paid Permit to Travel/QR code (as may be applicable to the passenger, shall be sanctioned as follows:

“Travelers, who are non-Nigerians, will be refused entry into Nigeria and returned to the point of embarkation at the cost to the airline;

“Travelers who are Nigerians or holders of a permanent residence permit will be allowed entry but subjected to the procedure outlined in Section D of the guideline.

“In addition, travelers arriving with forged (fake) vaccine certificates or COVID-19 PCR results shall be prosecuted and required to carry out PCR tests on arrival, on days 2 and 7.

“Airlines shall be fined US$ 3,500 per traveler for failure to comply with any of the pre-boarding requirements.

“Airlines who consistently fail to comply with the requirements may be banned from coming to Nigeria; and at the time of boarding, travelers will be required to undergo temperature screening and asked about COVID-19 symptoms.

“Travelers with temperature 38°C and other COVID-19-related signs and symptoms shall not be allowed to board the flight.’’

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