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COVID-19: PSC prescribes $3,500 fine, ban for airlines boarding violating travellers

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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

As the new international travel guideline issued by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, takes effect Monday, April 4, airlines that board violators of the guideline, would among other sanctions, pay a fine of $3,500 for each violator and could be banned from flying into Nigeria.

This is even as it announced that in-bound (fully vaccinated) passengers arriving in Nigeria will no longer be required to take a pre-departure PCR COVID-19 Test, while stiff penalties await unvaccinated travellers violating the new rules.

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According to the ‘Provisional Travel Protocol for Travelers Arriving Nigeria’ issued late Saturday by the Chairman of the PSC and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, addressing the issue of airline boarding violators of terms of the guideline, said: ‘Airlines that board travellers 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 cost to the airline;

‘Travellers who are Nigerians or holders of permanent residence permits will be allowed entry, but subjected to the procedure outlined in Section D below. In addition, travellers 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 USD 3,500 per traveller for failure to comply with any of the above mentioned pre-boarding requirements; iv. Airlines who consistently fail to comply with the above requirements may be banned from coming to Nigeria; and

‘At the time of boarding, travellers will be required to undergo temperature screening and asked about COVID-19 symptoms. Travellers with a temperature 38°C and other COVID-19 related signs and symptoms shall not be allowed to board the flight,’ the document read.

Mustapha added that the new guideline, prescribed that the same protocols for the fully vaccinated will apply to travellers between ages 10 and 18 years, he pointed out that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated international travellers will still be required to take the PCR test 48 hours before boarding a flight to Nigeria.

‘This protocol is a revision of the Travel Protocol released on 29th November 2021 Interim Travel Guidelines for Passengers arriving in Nigeria:

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‘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 arriving 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 hrs before departure and undergo Days 2 and 7 post-arrival PCR tests at their own cost; and

‘All in-bound passengers MUST register via the online Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP– https://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng)”, it said.

Meanwhile, for outbound travellers, the guideline prescribed that ‘all passengers travelling out of Nigeria are:

‘Encouraged to have evidence of full vaccination against COVID-19;

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

‘To familiarise themselves with the COVID-19 travel requirements of their destination and transit countries before embarking on the journey,’ it said.

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