The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has reviewed the COVID-19 health guidelines for the aviation industry in the country, abolishing face mask wearing by passengers.
Also, the aviation regulatory body in its revised COVID-19 public health protocols for all aviation service providers for both domestic and international operations has cancelled COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for all categories of passengers irrespective of their vaccination status.
The decision came just as President Muhammadu Buhari approved the immediate relaxation of COVID-19 safety measures and travel advisory, including suspending the PCR tests and gathering restrictions.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said this on Monday night in Abuja.
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According to him, this follows the recommendations of the PSC based on clinical and laboratory evidence of sustained reduction in COVID-19 infection/transmission across the country.
In the revised guideline signed by the Director-General of NCAA, Capt Musa Nuhu, airlines can now serve meals onboard their flights.
The NCAA boss explained that the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria and most parts of the world has remained at a low level for a sustained period hence the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 revised public health guidelines.
For domestic operations, he said the PSC mandated that the wearing of facemasks inside airport terminal buildings and onboard aircraft by airport workers, passengers, and crew members is no longer mandatory, stressing that wearing of “facemasks by passengers onboard aircraft or inside airport terminal buildings is discretionary but recommended”.
Persons aged 60 years and above, immunocompromised and those with co-morbidities are advised to use facemasks, wash their hands with water and soap, use hand alcohol-based sanitisers and avoid large gatherings.
In addition, the disinfection of bags at the entrance of terminal buildings and maintenance of social distancing at airport terminal buildings is no longer required.
The PSC equally mandated airlines to resume serving catering (meals and drinks) onboard aircraft while the use of alcohol-based sanitisers by passengers and airport workers is recommended.
For international operations, the same requirements as domestic operations are to be applied even as the pre-departure and post-arrival COVID-19 PCR tests have been abolished and are no longer required for all passengers irrespective of vaccination status while PCR tests required for all passengers who are partially or not fully vaccinated have equally been suspended.
Equally significant is that health declaration forms and permission to travel/QR code are no longer required.
Nuhu warned that failure by any aviation service provider to comply with the All Operators Letter (AOL) shall attract appropriate sanction, adding, “This AOL shall be effective immediately”.
The DG stated that a simplified health questionnaire form (non-COVID-19 specific) shall be completed by all passengers travelling to Nigeria preferably pre-departure on the Nigerian International Travel Portal (NITP).
He explained that passengers who fail to fill the health questionnaire on the NITP pre-departure will be required to fill the health questionnaire either onboard the aircraft prior to landing or at the airport terminal building upon arrival.
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