Nigeria rolls out guidelines for resumption of international flights

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has given recommendations to the aviation industry to commence the process for opening international airports provided all existing international and local prevention guidelines and COVID-19 are in place.

The Coordinator of Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, said this on Thursday while speaking on the new changes in the extended phase two of eased lockdown.

He said the task force had modified the advice with the regards to arrival for flights: Passengers arriving at the airports for domestic flights advice to arrive at least one and a half hours before their flight, and three hours before international flights where these restart.

The task force also announced that the national curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. remains as the phase two eased lockdown is extended by four weeks.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the retention of current phase of National response to COVID-19 for another four weeks with modifications.

Mr Aliyu also said that the federal civil servants on Grade Level 12 and above would now resume full work hours from 8a.m. to 4p.m. while the rest were to continue to stay at home.

The coordinator also gave the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, the green light to start planning its resumption for future phases after the second phase.

He said that daycare, primary, secondary, tertiary institutions remain closed, while recreational parks could open for supervised physical exercise.

He stated that only 20 people were allowed at funerals, weddings and other essential gatherings.

The coordinator said that strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols was all about behavioural change.

He said: “So that as you are aware, we are currently in phase two of the eased lockdown which started on the 1st of June 2020.

“Since then, we have made several minor adjustments to accommodate the gradual reopening of the economy as well as to address key challenges in the response.

“We have made an assessment of the current phase and as mentioned by the chairman, we have made recommendations to Mr President to retain the current phase of the response with minor changes to address some of the challenges we see on the economic, social, political and health fronts.

“The assessment that we did has revealed that there’s a lot of non-compliance with our non-pharmaceutical interventions, a lot of disbelief, skepticism, negativity with regards to the COVID pandemic.

“It is very clear that we need to have additional interventions to improve compliance with our non-pharmaceutical measures and our protocols.

“We also need to strengthen the engagement of communities and local authorities in prevention campaigns as well as expand on the current rollout of precision base control measures in high burden local governments in the country.

“Further to this effective from early morning hours of today and the measures put in place for the current phase two of the eased lockdown shall be maintained while addressing some specific aspects.

“These include maintaining the current nationwide curfew From 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

“Maintaining the restrictions on mass gatherings with specific emphasis on protecting vulnerable populations.

“We continue to urge persons above the age of 60, those that have underlying medical illnesses, such as: diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and those that have immunosuppression to please stay at home and limit the interaction with the general public.

“We also strongly recommend, and this has been accepted, that government meetings continue to be virtual as much as possible while maintaining restrictions on physical meetings, including official trips, oversight visits and board meetings until further notice.

“The restrictions in the education and entertainment sector as well as for other activities that attract mass gatherings such as operations of markets and worship centres remain.

“In particular, I would like to talk more about the general movement aspects.

“In terms of general movement, persons may go out for work, to buy necessary food, and for exercise specific to air transportation, as you’re aware domestic operations have already resumed, the railway sector has also restarted.

“For international travel, we have made recommendations to the aviation industry to commence the process for opening international airports provided all existing international and local prevention guidelines and COVID-19 are in place.

“We have modified the advice with the regards to arrival for flights: Passengers arriving at the airports for domestic flights advice to arrive at least one and a half hours before their flight, and three hours before international flights where these restart.

“For interstate travel, free movement of people and goods across state borders will continue, but only outside the curfew hours.

“Strict compliance is required with guidelines drawn by the Federal Ministry of Transportation as well as the advisory provided by the Federal Road Safety Corps as it relates to reduced occupancy for vehicles.

“Passengers are requested to report any public transport operator who fails to comply with the FRSC guidelines that have been agreed with major transport stakeholders.

“And with this particular phase, we will continue to push for the security services and enforcement agencies to make sure that they do their job of protecting public health.

“With regards to intrastate travel, we will continue with the policy of reduced occupancy to half for buses and a maximum of three passengers for normal taxis.

“With industry and labour: The main modification we have is an advisory for banks to limit the number of customers within the operating areas to 50% occupancy within the banking halls in order to allow for physical distancing and to limit their workers to 75 percent or less, but banking operations shall continue as usual.

“For government offices and other corporate offices: We are now extending working hours to normal official hours from Monday to Friday with the mandatory use of non-medical face masks.

“We encourage work-at-home policy for civil/public servants below the grade level of 12.

“Essential staff of grade level 12 and above may be allowed to come to work.

“Our previous cut off was grade level 14, temperature checks will be carried out in all official government buildings.

“For personalized services: We continue to allow personalized services such as mechanics, artisans, air saloons, etc. who own their own workshops with work stations and can clearly adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“We’re particularly concerned about the low level of compliance with wearing face masks and with the current extension of this phase, as I said earlier, we will be working with state authorities to start enforcing this and looking at alternative legal ways of changing behaviour.

“For markets, no major change apart from the issue of face masks that continues to be of concern.

“For hotels, restaurants and, eateries: Hotels may continue to remain open but must observe all mandatory non-pharmaceutical interventions, restaurants to maintain the takeaway/delivery system until further notice.

“Bars, gyms, cinemas and nightclubs remain closed until further evaluation.

“We have advised the National Youth Service Corps to start planning ahead of resumption in future phases, but not within this current phase of the response.

“We will work closely with them to design policies that may allow this to happen in the future.

“For community activities as it relates to day care and primary schools: All day care and primary schools are to remain closed until further evaluation.

“However, while primary schools must remain closed, registered pupils may proceed to take the national common entrance as soon as it is feasible provided there is compliance with issued non-pharmaceutical guidelines.

“For a secondary and tertiary institutions just to clarify, these remain closed, however, we have made arrangements for exiting or graduating students in their final years of secondary school to resume and partake in exams in line with guidelines issued by the Federal Ministry of Education.

“However, schools must comply with the six recommended steps and required measures issued by the Federal Ministry of Education and which is available online.

“There are no new changes to places of worship, policy remains the same.

“For recreational parks/communal sports: Restriction is removed on outdoor communal non-contact sports and the use of recreational parks for supervised physical exercise, not for social interactions, but supervised physical exercise.

“For recreational parks that are unable to enforce this we expect them to remain closed.

“For outdoor non-contact sports, this includes lawn tennis, table tennis, squash, badminton, cycling, athletics, golf, polo, para-athletics, cricket and other non contact outdoor communal activities, in the event that people are not certain,  please contact the Federal Ministry of Youth and sports for further guidance.

“Visiting of hospitalized patients remains limited to immediate family and we continue to recommend a maximum of 20 people including close family members when it comes to attendance or funerals and other essential gathering such as weddings that cannot be changed.

“So these are the main changes, most of them are minor adjustments.

“And as I said earlier, we are continuing with the current phase 2 of the response.

“I would like to conclude by thanking the general public for continuing to support the presidential task force and the protocols that we have set up and more importantly for continuing to be patient with us as we get over this pandemic as soon as possible.”

NAN


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