The Federal Government has introduced a new international travel guideline by removing mandatory PCR testing for fully vaccinated visitors and instituted stiff penalties for any unvaccinated traveller that violates the new rules.
According to a revised travel protocol released by the chairman of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, fully vaccinated passengers are required to show evidence of a “verifiable” vaccination certificate and permit to travel certificate.
He stated that passengers who are not able to show evidence of full vaccination will be treated as unvaccinated or partially vaccinated under the new protocol.
The Chairman also noted that the ‘Provisional Travel Protocol for Travellers Arriving Nigeria’, which takes effect from Monday, April 4, 2022, also prescribed sanctions for airlines that board violators of the new rules.
The new guidelines prescribe that the same protocols for fully vaccinated travellers will also apply to travellers between the ages of 10 and 18, adding that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated international travellers will still be required to take the PCR test 48 hours before boarding a flight to Nigeria.
The protocol reads:
“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.
Travelers who are fully vaccinated are not required to observe the mandatory 7-day quarantine nor undertake the day 2 and day 7 post-arrival PCR tests.”
The PSC advised passengers travelling out of Nigeria to have evidence of full vaccination; comply with the COVID-19 guidelines and testing requirements of their destination or transit countries before embarking on the journey.
The statement read:
“Passengers who do not have evidence of full vaccination must perform a COVID-19 PCR test not more than 2 days (48 hours) before boarding. Travelers must bring along an electronic or hard copy of their negative COVID-19 PCR test for presentation at the departure airport and upon arrival in Nigeria.
On arrival in Nigeria, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers are to show up at the laboratory/sample collection centers chosen by them while filling the NITP on the 2nd and 7th day of arrival.
Samples will be taken, and a COVID-19 PCR test done. The selected private laboratory will send a reminder text message, email, or phone call to the traveler a day before the appointment date;
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Persons who test negative for COVID-19 after 7 days of self-isolation/quarantine will be allowed to exit self-isolation on receipt of their result, but if tested positive, will be treated according to measures instituted by the government.”
On the issue of airlines boarding violators, it stated that among other sanctions, such airlines would be fined $3,500 for each violator and could be banned from flying into the country.
“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:
Travellers, who are non-Nigerians, will be refused entry into Nigeria and returned to the point of embarkation at a cost to the airline.
Travellers who are Nigerians or holders of permanent resident permit 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 two and seven.
Airlines shall be fined USD 3,500 per traveller for failure to comply with any of the above mentioned pre-boarding requirements. Airlines that consistently fail to comply with the above requirements may be banned from coming to Nigeria.
At the time of boarding, travellers will be required to undergo temperature screening and asked about COVID-19 symptoms. Travellers with temperature of 38°C and other COVID-19 related signs and symptoms shall not be allowed to board the flight.”