The Federal Government has warned that passengers not wearing face masks will be considered unruly and ejected from their flights.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said this in Abuja at the 49th joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
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This is as he also said that non-travelling aides of all dignitaries will no longer be allowed into the terminal as part of the new protocol.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the banning of aides of ministers, military, National Assembly members, governors, judiciary and others at the airport, with exemptions of people with disabilities who will be assisted at the airport by the ground staff of the airline as well as those with diplomatic immunity.
“Everyone who has seen me travel knows that I don’t travel with aides or assistants. I travel alone, I carry my bags by myself. I’m leading by example, so I expect all VIPs to comply with the new directive that no non-travelling aides will be permitted in terminals,” Sirika said.
He said that the last row of seats on the aircraft will be reserved for isolation of persons suspected to have the coronavirus infection.
He said going to the airport, there will be mandatory temperature and symptoms checks.
“Face masks must be worn at all times inside the airport and airplane. Frequent cleaning of hands and physical distancing will be maintained at all times,” he said.
He explained that the cabin air is safer than most other environments and that the processes of compression, heating, cooling, and filtration that aircraft cabin air is subjected to take out 99.99 per cent of all organisms including viruses.
He said, “The inside of an airplane cabin is one of the most hygienic environments in the world, because of the high efficiency of the filtration and purification processes and systems for the circulating air.”
Speaking on the resumption of flights, the minister said, “Domestic flight operations will commence on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Lagos, Abuja and Kano airports have passed all tests. But Wednesday resumption is only for Lagos and Abuja. Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Maiduguri scheduled to reopen July 11.”
Sirika also stated that Nigeria was not rushing into the reopening of airports as five countries in Africa and over 100 countries across the world have already started domestic air services.
“The flight simulation is to achieve some basic things; firstly it is to maintain physical distance with each other, secondly, it is to wear protective materials such as face mask and face shield, thirdly, it is to maintain hygiene; fourthly, it is to clean the area and surfaces and that is a function of the robot itself apart from identifying the passengers.
“All of the things that have happened here (flight dry run) is to ensure we don’t spread COVID-19,” he said.