FG’s new travel restrictions, sanctions take effect today
*Govt extends ban on travellers from Brazil, Turkey, India and S’Africa
In lieu of the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government has reviewed in-country safety protocol, with restrictions of passengers from some countries taking effect from July 2 (today).
The ‘provisional quarantine protocol for travellers arriving Nigeria’, dated June 30, 2021, prohibits travellers from the quartet of Brazil, Turkey, India and South Africa.
Contrary to airlines and some countries’ advocacy for vaccination and antigen test as entry requirements, the Federal Government has stuck to mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, quarantine and self-isolation for all arriving passengers.
While evaders of any of these conditions shall be prosecuted, defaulting airlines are liable to fines in excess of $3,500 per illegal entrant or default.
Amid the apprehension of the fourth wave of coronavirus, driven by the Delta variant that began in India, countries are beginning to take fresh safety measures.
The local protocol, signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, stated that non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents, who visited Brazil, India, Turkey or South Africa within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria, shall be denied entry into Nigeria.
“This regulation, however, does not apply to passengers who transit through these countries. The following measures shall apply to airlines and passengers who fail to comply with the above: airlines shall mandatorily pay a penalty of $3,500 for each defaulting passenger. Non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at a cost to the Airline. Nigerians and those with permanent resident permits, who visited Brazil, India, Turkey and South Africa within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria shall be made to undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine in a government-approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at a cost to the passenger.
“The following conditions shall apply to such passengers: within 24 hours of arrival shall take a COVID-19 PCR test; if positive, the passenger shall be admitted within a government-approved treatment centre, in line with national treatment protocols; and if Negative, the passenger shall continue to remain in quarantine and made to undergo a repeat PCR test on day seven of their quarantine.
“Passengers who provided false or misleading contact information will be liable to prosecution; and persons who willfully disregard or refuse to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies or evade quarantine shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law,” the advisory stated in part.
Passengers departing for Nigeria are mandated to perform a COVID-19 PCR test not more than three days or 72 hours before boarding. PCR test done more than 72 hours before departure is not valid and the person will not be allowed to board.
“Rapid antigen or antibody tests are not acceptable; only PCR tests can be used for this purpose. Test validity commences from the time of sample collection. For passengers with multiple connections before arrival in Nigeria, the PCR test must be valid within 72 hours of boarding from the first point of departure.
“Passengers must bring along an electronic or hard copy of their COVID-19 PCR test for presentation at the departure airport and upon arrival in Nigeria.”
Prior to boarding for Nigeria, passengers are mandated to present two documents at their point of departure to be allowed to board: A negative COVID-19 PCR test administered within 72 hours of departure and a Permit to Travel Certificate/QR Code – generated from the Nigeria International Travel Portal on completion of a health questionnaire, uploading of a negative COVID-19 PCR.
Airlines that board passengers without any of the two documents are liable to sanctions. Passengers, who are non-Nigerians, will be refused entry and returned to the point of embarkation at a cost to the airline, while passengers who are Nigerians or holders of the permanent residence permit will be allowed entry but quarantined.
“In addition, passengers arriving with forged (fake) COVID-19 PCR results shall be referred for prosecution. Airlines shall be fined $3,500 per passenger for failure to comply with any of the pre-boarding requirements. Airlines, who consistently fail to comply with the above requirements, may be banned from coming to Nigeria.
“All passengers arriving in Nigeria will be required to go through the routine Port Health screening and present electronic or print-out evidence of pre-boarding COVID-19 PCR test and the Permit to Travel Certificate/QR Code. Present their international passports for clearance through the Nigerian Immigration Service System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System (MIDAS). Proceed on mandatory seven days self-isolation/quarantine in their selected in-country destination,” the protocol read in part.