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COVID-19: Personal assistants and aides not allowed in airport terminals, FG tells VIPs

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The Federal government yesterday warned top government officials and Very Important Persons, VIPs, not to approach airport terminals with their aides or personal assistants, saying such privileges will no longer be entertained once the operation of domestic flights commences tomorrow.

Giving the warning during the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said only the person traveling will be allowed within the terminal, in compliance with COVID-19 regulations.

Sirika also revealed that social distancing will be observed on occasions where there was available space, adding that normal seating arrangements won’t be out of place as aircraft cabins remained some of the safest places.

“We are going to sequence our arrival and departure so as to know the number of passengers entering the terminal building.

“Furthermore, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved that top government officials, top military personnel, members of national and states assemblies, governors and judicial officers, among other VIPs, are not allowed to enter airport terminals with their aides or PAs as they will no longer be allowed once flight operations commence on Wednesday, July 8.

“We are going to commence domestic flight operation on Wednesday July 8, with Lagos and Abuja having passed the test of operation. Kano is also ready for operation, while Port Harcourt and Owerri are going to be ready shortly.

“If there is space in the flight, social distancing will be observed but if otherwise, people will have to seat normally because COVID-19 protocol risk of contamination is reduced while seating in cabin.

“For emphasis, people should get to the airport early enough, so they can be observed for the symptoms of COVID-19 along with other protocols. Wearing of face mask is going to be mandatory. If you don’t wear face mask, we are going to consider you as being rude and not worthy to board the flight.”

Speaking further, Sirika, said food would no longer be served on domestic flights when operations resume, explaining that the decision is part of efforts to control the spread of coronavirus on flights.

“For domestic operations, there will be no food. No food will be given to reduce contamination level and we will allow you to come with your mask.

“Like the MD of FAAN said the other day, we see it as your private thing. So, you have to bring your mask, they don’t have to be the fancy ones.”

On how cabin crew came into existence, he said the cabin crew’s job was not to offer tea to passengers.

He said: “They came into the industry because of people who were getting air-sick so we thought we would be putting nurses in the airplane to look after those people who are sick. Since then, they metamorphosed and became something new.

“They want to now give you tea because many people don’t get sick anymore, they will give you coffee, offer you food and drinks and so on. So the main purpose of the cabin staff is to ensure that we all remain safe for your welfare and your health.”

In his presentation, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, urged political parties and politicians to embrace mass communication tools to reach prospective electorate rather than encouraging mass physical gathering.

He said: “As we all know that COVID-19 virus thrives in mass gatherings, we need to encourage use of mass media as tools for soliciting votes because the virus will not realize that we are having election. So we need to think of the lives of electorate first, their existence is more important than any vote you may get.

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