Travel agencies protest COVID-19 rapid test regime at airports - THE GUARDIAN
By Wole Oyebade
*Foreign airlines explain extra measures, seek cooperation
Travel operators, Wednesday, kicked against the new COVID-19 antigen tests among other safety measures now imposed by some foreign airlines plying the Nigerian route.
The operators flayed the additional discomfort and extra cost imposed on the travelling public in Nigeria alone, describing them as exploitative.
The airlines earlier explained that the additional test measures were due to rampant cases of fake COVID-19 test results coming from Nigeria.
The Guardian reported that international carriers have begun enforcement of fresh safety protocols much to the discomfort of Nigerian travellers.
The national carriers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Netherlands, Emirates and KLM, respectively, have begun conducting mandatory antigen tests on Nigerian passengers, in addition to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test approved by the Federal Government and the global standard.
The test costs additional N25, 800 per traveller at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and N36, 800 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
Chairman of the Airline Passenger Joint Committee (APJC), Bankole Bernard, said Emirates and co. had no fault in disrespecting Nigerian travellers, but for the Federal Government that has refused to live up to the billing.
Bernard said he was not unaware of the fake test result claims, but it is the exclusive responsibility of the government to rid the system of saboteurs.
â€œI believe the government should live up to its responsibility, except they are saying that we all in Nigeria do not matter. Dubai is bothered. Hence, they are mandating two-test procedures and making money from the travelling public. But that is completely unacceptable and sheer irresponsibility on our part.
â€œMy question is, are we that corrupt in Nigeria and useless that we create only problems for everyone in the world? What measures has the government put in place to sanitise our system? The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) gave approval for the new tests to be conducted in two airports, without the knowledge of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other stakeholders in aviation. What does NCDC know about the travel market? So, it is not the fault of Emirates at all,â€ Bernard said.
Similarly, President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye, said operators found the new test regime and stealthy confinement of Dubai-bound Nigerian travellers to Emirates Airlines alone, as quite disturbing.
She said: â€œWe are worried, and call on the Minister of Aviation to help intervene and interrogate this development. We appreciate the efforts of governments and airlines to help secure the lives of passengers and also protect their citizens, which NANTA supports in all ramifications but this additional requirement from Dubai airport Authority and Emirates are far-flung and we crave for better arrangements, possibly involving other stakeholders. In this pandemic situation, no man is an island.â€
Emirates, in response to our inquiries, stated that they were keen to ensure that flights between Nigeria and Dubai continue.
â€œWe moved very quickly to ensure that rapid COVID-19 testing facilities were ready in Abuja and Lagos for our passengers.
â€œEmirates would like to reiterate that the new testing requirements are in no way intended to single out Nigerian passengers and that these measures are being followed to safeguard the health and safety of all those travelling, as mandated by the UAE government. Passengers travelling to Dubai from over 55 countries undergo similar measures, including a number of other African countries.
â€œEmirates is also not discriminating against Nigerians transiting via other African countries. Passengers in transit are unable to meet the rapid COVID-19 test requirements, which are currently available in Abuja and Lagos.
â€œEmirates hopes to continue our dialogue with the Nigerian authorities to ensure that we can carry on with our services and provide much-needed connectivity, and make air travel more accessible for our customers.â€
Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, said everyone could feel the pinch of new restrictions, but the way out is a better partnership among the stakeholders.
â€œI donâ€™t think that anyone foresees a world free from COVID-19 anytime soon. Certainly, not in the next months or even within this year. But our ability to manage the risk is increasing as more people get vaccinated and testing capacity expands.
â€œEventually, we will be at a point where these and other measures give governments the reassurance that the risk of re-starting our lives—including travel—is tolerable, recognising also the significant social and economic benefits that are at stake.
â€œWe are eager to work with governments as partners to understand what the benchmarks and conditions will be for a decision to give people back their freedom of movement. A functioning aviation industry will add vital momentum to the economic recovery. Indeed, without aviation, a recovery is likely not possible. We have all seen far too many stories of the terrible job losses and human suffering across the travel and tourism sector. So-called â€œstaycationsâ€ and local tourism are not the answer. Only aviation will be able to energise a recovery,â€ de Juniac said.
African Airlines Post 69.8% Fall in Traffic - THISDAY
African airlines recorded 69.8 per cent fall in traffic in 2020, adjudged the worst year for passenger traffic in decades. This was disclosed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in its full-year global passenger traffic results for 2020. The report showed that demand (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) fell by 65.9 per cent, compared to the full year of 2019.
International passenger demand in 2020 was 75.6 per cent below 2019 levels. Capacity, (measured in available seat kilometers or ASKs) declined 68.1 per cent and load factor fell 19.2 percentage points to 62.8 per cent.
Also, domestic demand in 2020 was down 48.8 per cent compared to 2019. Capacity contracted by 35.7 per cent and load factor dropped 17 percentage points to 66.6 per cent. It showed that as of December 2020, total traffic was 69.7 per cent, below the same month in 2019. Capacity was down 56.7 per cent and load factor fell 24.6 percentage points to 57.5 per cent.
Bookings for future travel made in January 2021 were down 70 per cent, compared to a year-ago, putting further pressure on airline cash positions and potentially impacting the timing of the expected recovery. IATAâ€™s baseline forecast for 2021 was for a 50.4 per cent improvement on 2020 demand, â€œthat would bring the industry to 50.6 per cent of 2019 levels.â€
â€œWhile this view remains unchanged, there is a severe downside risk if more severe travel restrictions in response to new variants persist. Should such a scenario materialise, demand improvement could be limited to just 13 per cent over 2020 levels, leaving the industry at 38 per cent of 2019 levels.â€
How To Apply For Canada's Start-Up Visa From Nigeria - IMMIGRATION CANADA
Nigeria is a leader for entrepreneurship with more technology hubs than any other country in Africa and booming with start-ups that could benefit from access to Canadian and American markets through Canadaâ€™s Start-Up Visa program.
In its Global Start-up Ecosystem Report 2019, the Startup Genome research and advisory organization listed Lagos, Nigeria as one of the most likely places in the world to become a Top 30 tech hub to lead a Silicon Valley-like, albeit smaller, tech boom in the next few years.
â€œThe Nigerian start-up ecosystem is on the move,â€ notes VC4A, a Nigerian start-up support organization. â€œIt is a leading hub for entrepreneurship on the continent thanks to several strengths, including a growing number of engaging international investors, a huge population with access to technology, and a growing number of start-up support organizations active in the ecosystem.â€
That explosive growth in tech companies in Nigeria comes as Canadian companies are poised for major growth in the digitization of their operations in the post-COVID-19 world.
â€œThe number one priority for Canadian businesses in 2021 is digital resiliency and our predictions reflect that priority,â€ says Tony Olvet, International Data Corporationâ€™s group vice-president of research.
â€œThe pandemic caused an accelerated move to digital technologies and services in large part to serve customers and support employees in new ways. But as business and IT leaders look ahead to the post-pandemic economy, we donâ€™t expect them to go back to the old ways of doing business,â€ he says. â€œDigital investments will continue, and the notion of resiliency will remain high on the executive agenda.â€
International Data Corporation is forecasting that Canadian organizations will accelerate the digitization of their workflow two to three times faster than the automation of their physical environment in the coming year. By the end of 2021, half of Canadian large enterprises are expected to be using artificial intelligence for process and workflow automation.
That means there is a great deal of opportunity for Nigerian entrepreneurs who want to come to Canada and start up a business under Canadaâ€™s Start-Up Visa program.
Budding entrepreneurs who want to benefit by starting businesses in Canada through the Start-Up Visa program can get Canadian permanent residence if they qualify as immigrant entrepreneurs.
Under the Canada Start-Up Visa program, three types of private-sector investors are considered: angel investors, venture capital funds, and business incubators. A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business.
Candidates can also qualify with two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totalling $200,000. A designated angel investor group must invest at least $75,000 into the qualifying business.
Candidates can also qualify with two or more investments from angel investor groups totalling $75,000. A designated business incubator must accept the applicant into its business incubator program. It is up to the immigrant investor to develop a viable business plan that will meet the due diligence requirements of these government-approved designated entities.
Thatâ€™s usually done with the help of business consultants in Canadaâ€™s start-up ecosystem with oversight from experienced corporate business immigration lawyers who can ensure a start-upâ€™s business concept meets all industry-required terms and conditions.
Candidates applying under the Start-Up Visa program can initially come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated Canadian investor before their application for permanent residence is finalized.
The basic government-imposed candidate eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa program are:
- a qualifying business;
- a commitment certificate and letter of support from a designated entity;
- sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds to meet settlement funding, and;
- proficiency in English or French at the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level 5. However, it frequently occurs that higher levels of English are needed to meet due diligence requirements imposed by designated entities.
Ottawa does not give financial support to new Start-Up Visa immigrants. When candidates apply, they need to show evidence they have the finances to support themselves and their dependents in Canada. This money cannot be borrowed.
Additionally, it often occurs that candidates will need to show additional, sufficient funding to meet start-up costs of their business project, as a condition of investment by a designated entity (VC or Angel).
This is an area where experienced legal consulting will prove invaluable. The amount of settlement funding needed depends on the size of the candidateâ€™s family.
Settlement Funds Needed Under Start-Up Visa Program
|Number of family members||Funds required|
|* Each additional family member||$3,492|
Certainly, the Start-Up Visa program is growing in popularity. In 2019, the total number of new permanent resident approved admissions reached 510, more than double the 250 welcomed in 2018. The figures have been increasing steadily over the last five years.
New Permanent Residents Through Start-Up Visa Program
The Start-Up Visa program also represents an important option for international students, many of whom do not qualify for permanent residence through the skilled worker immigration streams. While Ottawa has taken steps to gear up the Express Entry system to favour international students, they are by no means guaranteed to qualify for a coveted Invitation to Apply under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
The minimum score needed to qualify has often been over 470, leaving many students unable to qualify even with the support of a job offer from a Canadian employer. These candidates can either sit in the Express Entry pool and hope the minimum score under the CRS falls or they can make the transition from temporary to permanent residence. This is where the Start-Up Visa program becomes an option.
Unlike almost every other federal and provincial-level entrepreneur program which requires a minimum of one or two years of previous experience either owning a business or in top-level management, the Start-Up Visa program does not require previous management experience.
The support of a government-designated entity is enough. And that support can be either financial or in the form of accepting the candidate into a business incubator program. Immigrants who avail themselves of the Start-Up Visa program consistently report that it is quick, both for the initial work permit and permit residence application.
Letter of Support
With a viable start-up business project, an immigrant entrepreneur can expect it to take about four to six months to secure a commitment certificate or letter of support from a designated entity. Once that letter of support is received, the application for permanent residence can be submitted.
It will then take approximately 18-months to finalize the application through to the issuance of a permanent residence visa. For the candidate to qualify for permanent residence:
- The intended business must be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada;
- The candidate must own at least 10 per cent of the voting rights in the corporation, and;
- No other person can hold 50 per cent or more of the voting rights in the corporation.
As many as five candidates can have their permanent residence application supported by the same business investment. But that can come with a risk. Certain candidates may be designated as essential to the business. If any of the essential candidates withdraw their applications or are refused, all other candidates under the same business investment will see their applications terminated.
Surveys suggest Start-Up Visa candidates usually go on to succeed in Canada, in terms of growing their business, attracting further investment, networking or selling their business for a profit.
Through its Toronto based facilities, Immigration.ca works extensively with industry-acclaimed designated entities in the Canadian start-up ecosystem. The firm provides a range of hands-on business advisory services to help intending entrepreneur immigrants and their start-up business concept meet all industry requirements.
Canada Citizenship Numbers Set To Explode Later This Year After Dropping To Almost Zero - IMMIGRATION CANADA
An explosion in the number of permanent residents getting their Canadian citizenship is likely to hit Canada later this year or early next year, says Robert Falconer, a research associate at the School of Public Policy of the University of Calgary.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data shows just how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected citizenship ceremonies in Canada.
In the first 11 months of last year, only 107,119 people took the citizenship oath in Canada, a drop of almost 45.9 per cent from the 233,397 who became Canadian citizens during the comparable period the previous year.
Throughout 2019, a total of 250,367 permanent residents became Canadian citizens. Although the number of new citizens did fluctuate monthly, the average for any given month was about 20,860.
That level maintained itself through to the end of February.
Then, the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada hard. Lockdowns went into effect throughout the country, effectively shutting down citizenship ceremonies in most places.
In all of Canada, only 14 people took the citizenship oath in April last year and only 61 in May. The numbers started to pick up again in June with 1,716 new citizens and built up to a high of 13,819 in September only to drop back to 9,194 in October and a paltry 3,365 in November.
â€œOn March 14, 2020, in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, we cancelled all citizenship ceremonies, tests and retests until further notice,â€ says IRCC communications advisor Lauren Sankey.
â€œAfter a period of near-total shutdown, we began holding citizenship ceremonies online, and as of Nov. 30, IRCC has sworn in or affirmed over 45,300 new Canadian citizens in over 8,900 ceremonies.â€
On November 26, the Canadian immigration department put in place an online platform for taking citizenship tests, making Canada the first country in the world to offer citizenship testing online.
During the next few months, Sankey says the platform will be tested and only a limited number of people invited to take the online test so that the systemâ€™s performance can be monitored.
â€œAs long as no major issues are encountered, IRCC was expecting to be able to offer the online citizenship test to about 5,000 clients by the end 2020 â€“ and preliminary data indicate that we exceeded that number,â€ says Sankey.
Falconer says there are a few reasons for the precipitous drop in people becoming Canadian citizens last year.
Hard times due to job losses and economic uncertainty for many permanent residents in Canada during the pandemic affected the ability of some to pay the fees to become a citizen, he says.
â€œIf youâ€™re out of work or youâ€™ve been impacted negatively by COVID-19, you might say, â€˜Iâ€™ll wait another year until things get better,â€™â€ says Falconer.
â€œIt costs a fair amount of money for a family of four to get their citizenship.â€
Citizenship fees of various kinds add up to about $630 per adult and roughly $100 for a child. A family of four with two parents could expect to pay about $1,460 to get their citizenship.
Since Ottawa has said it will likely be removing those citizenship fees, many permanent residents may be waiting for brighter times before taking the plunge.
Falconer says the governmentâ€™s decision to move citizenship ceremonies online during the pandemic also likely had some permanent residents waiting until they can celebrate this milestone in person with friends and family.
The pandemic, which has forced many business operations to go online, has also likely created delays in the processing of citizenship applications as government employees move from office environments to working from home.
All of this is creating a pent-up demand for citizenship ceremonies that will likely explode once the pandemic fades into memory.
â€œThereâ€™ll be an explosion in citizenship ceremonies for a couple of reasons,â€ says Falconer. â€œPeople are waiting until they can do it in person and, on the government side, itâ€™s taking longer to process the applications.
â€œWeâ€™ll see some resumption over the summer, especially if they allow outdoor ceremonies.â€
The immigration and refugee issues researcher is expecting the explosion in citizenship numbers to come late this year or early next year.
The pent-up demand from this year added to the regular volume of a normal year, could see roughly 30,000 new Canadian citizens per month in 2022. That number of citizenship applications might be difficult for the IRCC to process with its current staffing levels.
â€œThe IRCC is one of the most under-staffed government institutions in Canada,â€ says Falconer.
Immigrants need to have lived in Canada for three years to qualify for citizenship. The sharp downturn in immigration caused by border restrictions due to COVID-19 is not affecting citizenship numbers yet since these people are already in Canada.
But the anomalous immigration pattern last year and so far this year due to the pandemic is likely to cause fluctuations in the number of people applying for citizenship in three years.
â€œYouâ€™ll see a brief drop followed by an equivalent spike later on,â€ says Falconer.
As Canadian immigration officials work with the new online tests for citizenship, an important aspect is the verification of applicantsâ€™ identities, which is important to the integrity of the program.
â€œMeasures are place to confirm each applicantâ€™s identity by capturing a photo of their ID, their face and by taking static photos (non-biometric) during the test,â€ says Sankey.
FG suspends outbound Emirates flights - PUNCH
BY Segun Adewole
The outbound flights fo Emirates Airlines from Nigeria have been hit with a 72-hour suspension by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
This is contained in a circular issued on February 4 which states that the suspension followed a violation of guidelines placed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, The PUNCH learnt.
The airline is accused of airlifting passengers from Nigeria using rapid antigen tests done at laboratories which are not approved by regulatory authorities.
The circular read, â€œBased on the foregoing and to enable the Nigerian government to put in place the needed infrastructure and logistics for COVID-19 RDT testing for departing passengers, the PTF has directed that Emirates Airlines should either accept passengers without RDT pending when the infrastructure and logistics are put in place or suspend its flights to and from Nigeria until such a time when the required infrastructure and logistics are fully established and implemented.
â€œEmirates Airlines has not been in compliance with the two options given by the PTF as records obtained from Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) indicates that Emirates Airlines operated the flights from both Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.â€
UAE suspends rapid tests, FG lifts ban on Emirates - PUNCH
BY Joseph Olaoluwa
The Federal Government has lifted the ban it earlier placed on Emirates airlines.
This is coming after the United Arab Emirates granted the carrier permission to withdraw the Rapid Antigen Testing prior to the departure of Emirates flights from Nigeria, according to a letter by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
Due to the development, the Presidential TaskForce directed the immediate lifting of the suspension of Emirates airlines operations in Nigeria.
The letter signed by the Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu expected the airline to comply with the directives by the PTD on COVID-19 and other protocols of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
â€œEmirates airlines will be duly informed of ongoing enforcement actions by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority with regards to the established non-compliances to PTF directives and protocols as enumerated in our letter of February 4, 2021,â€ the letter read.
Similarly, the airline expressed its desire to continue flying to Nigeria as it thanked the authorities for their support.
It read, â€œEmirates can confirm that we will continue to operate services to Abuja and Lagos. We are strongly committed to Nigeria, and would like to thank the local authorities for their trust and support. We look forward to continuing to safely connect our customers, and meet air travel demand from Nigeria to and through Dubai to Emiratesâ€™ global network.â€
The foreign carrier was earlier on banned for airlifting passengers from Nigeria using Rapid Antigen Tests conducted by laboratories that are neither approved nor authorised by the appropriate regulatory bodies.
It also failed to comply with the two options given by the PTF to the airline, according to records obtained by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency
Similarly, it accused the foreign carrier of advertising two centres not approved for coronavirus rapid testing, identified as Travel Clinic and Medicaid Mobile Laborator.
Nigeria Lifts Emiratesâ€™ Suspension - SIMPLY FLYING
A spokesperson for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) announced that Nigeria had lifted its suspension of Emirates flights after the state-owned carrier insisted that passengers from Nigeria needed additional COVID-19 tests. In a telephone call, the NCAA spokesperson said that the suspension â€œhas just been lifted because they have complied with what we want.â€
The initial reasoning
Last Monday, a spokesperson for the aviation ministry said that in addition to requiring a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before flying from Nigeria, Emirates was now requiring a rapid test being done four hours before departure. Rapid antigen tests are slightly less accurate than a PCR test but can return coronavirus test results in around 15 minutes.
In a letter to the manager of Emirates in Nigeria dated February 4 and titled: â€œSuspension of Emirates airlines operations to Nigeria.â€
The NCAA claimed that Emirates had flown passengers from Nigeria that had taken COVID-19 tests done by labs that have not been approved nor authorized by the appropriate Nigerian authorities. Reuters claims that the letter says that the decision to suspend Emirates flights was made because Emirates failed to heed a request by Nigeria.
Nigeria asked Emirates to accept passengers who had not taken the rapid test four hours before departure until such a time as it was possible to have this test done at Nigerian airports by approved laboratories. If they could not accommodate the Nigerian authorities with this request, the letter said that they should suspend all flights to Nigeria.
Nigerians must arrive on direct flights
According to aviation sources, a travel notice on the RwandAir website said that the relevant authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would only permit the entry of passengers arriving on direct flights from Nigeria. Passengers from Nigeria who had transited through a third country would not be allowed in.
This was in response to other non-confirmed claims that Nigerians were making their way to Dubai through countries that did not have strict protocols regarding the virus. By doing this, it automatically stopped other countriesâ€™ airlines from carrying Nigerian passengers to the UAE.
Airlines try and do everything they can to make flying as stress-free as possible, which means that the four-hour antigen test before flying to Dubai was probably at the authoritiesâ€™ request in the UAE.
An Emirates spokesperson told Simple Flying the following:
â€œEmirates can confirm that we will continue to operate services to Abuja and Lagos. We are strongly committed to Nigeria, and would like to thank the local authorities for their trust and support. We look forward to continuing to safely connect our customers, and meet air travel demand from Nigeria to and through Dubai to Emiratesâ€™ global network.â€
Happily, it looks as though this has all been sorted out and that Nigeria has lifted Emirates suspension.
U.K. to Bring in Hotel Quarantine for Travelers From Feb. 15 - BLOOMBERG
- Minister defends time taken to finalize plan announced in Jan.
- Hancock sought advice on policy from Australia, New Zealan
The U.K. will require travelers arriving from coronavirus hot spots to quarantine in hotels starting Feb. 15, almost three weeks after the plan was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Arrivals from countries on the U.K.â€™s travel ban list will be required to isolate for 10 days in government-approved accommodation, the Department for Health and Social Care said in a statement late Thursday. Officials are seeking bids from hotels near airports and ports to support the program.
The announcement follows days of confusion over how soon the government would implement a policy it sees as critical to prevent new strains of coronavirus that may be more resistant to vaccines from entering the country. Hotels said they were kept in the dark over the governmentâ€™s intentions.
â€œWeâ€™ve been working to make sure that we know what we need to ask of the hotels,â€ Cabinet minister James Cleverly told LBC radio on Friday. â€œIf youâ€™re a hotel and youâ€™re next to a major airport, youâ€™ve got a pretty good idea that youâ€™re the kind of hotel weâ€™re looking for.â€
The Telegraph newspaper reported ministers aim to secure 28,000 hotel rooms for the program, a number Cleverly declined to confirm.
Vaccines Hold Key
Johnson is hoping to use the countryâ€™s so-far successful vaccination program as a springboard to reopen the economy after a third lockdown which started last month. He has said schools will open from March 8 at the earliest, and has promised to publish a plan for easing the restrictions in the week of Feb. 22.
Keeping out vaccine-resistant strains of Covid-19 is crucial to those plans. The government has put 30 countries, including the whole of South America, a swath of southern Africa and Portugal, on the travel ban list after new variants that emerged in Brazil and South Africa in recent weeks heightened concerns.
Cleverly told the BBC a blanket ban on arrivals from all countries would be an â€œexcessiveâ€ move, and that the U.K. will use its genomic program to identify new strains to adapt its list of high-risk countries.
The existing ban doesnâ€™t apply to U.K. citizens returning from those countries, which the quarantine plan is meant to address. Arrivals in the U.K. are already required to show a negative Covid-19 test and isolate for 10 days, but thereâ€™s no set location, making enforcement difficult. The government said it is increasing police presence at airports and increasing checks at residences.
â€˜Race Against Timeâ€™
Still, the opposition Labour Partyâ€™s home affairs spokesman, Nick Thomas-Symonds, criticized the announcement as â€œtoo little, too late.â€
â€œWe are in a race against time to protect our borders against new Covid strains, he said. â€œYet hotel quarantine will come in to force more than 50 days after the South African strain was discovered.â€
Officials have held a series of meetings with more than 60 companies and industry representatives in the aviation, maritime and hospitality industries. Formal contracts will be awarded to hotels, with former Vice Chief of Defence Staff, General Gordon Messenger, advising the government on the delivery of the program, according to the Department of Health.
â€œThe introduction of quarantine hotels for â€˜red list countriesâ€™ builds on a mountain of existing measures for travel, and we need to see a clear plan for how these will be lifted,â€ said travel agentsâ€™ and tour operatorsâ€™ association ABTA, which also called for more financial support for the sector.
The Times newspaper reported late Thursday that ministers are also considering a certification system for Britons, to allow them to travel to countries that may require proof of inoculation for coronavirus upon entry.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Thursday heâ€™d spoken with his Australian counterpart to seek advice about how to quarantine travelers in hotels. His officials are also liaising with New Zealand authorities. Both nations have had mandatory quarantine for months.
More than 110,000 people in the U.K. have died from coronavirus, compared to 909 in Australia.
— With assistance by Joe Mayes, and Charlotte Ryan
(Updates with Cleverly comment in fourth paragraph, details throughout)
Britain will not introduce COVID-19 vaccine passports - REUTERS
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will not introduce COVID-19 vaccine passports, but people will be able to seek proof from their doctor if needed for travel to other countries, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday.
â€œWe are certainly not looking to introduce it as part of the vaccine deployment programme,â€ Zahawi told Sky News.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Hugh Lawson
U.K. firm tests run hovercraft in Lagos - THE NATION
By Lucas Ajanaku
To enhance the water transportation system in Lagos State, a United Kingdom (U.K.) firm carried out a trial of hovercraft on Lagos waterways at the weekend. Hovercraft is an amphibious boat-like vehicle that travels over water, sand and on grasses.
The U.K. hovercraft design and manufacturing company, Griffon Hoverwork, carried out the demonstration in a move that can improve the climate resilience of Lagos state, contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic development in the city.
An enhanced and reliable water transport system will also reduce congestion on roads, promote economic growth, and improve competition in the business environment as well as the overall operations in the state. It will reduce travel time, improve connectivity between communities and hence provide access to critical services such as healthcare, education and employment.
The U.K. government through its Future Cities Nigeria Programme, have been providing technical assistance to the state government to enhance its water transport system, which will in turn improve the climate resilience of the state, by offering a viable alternative to road transport, and provide an improved transport option for Lagos residents and visitors.
Speaking at the occasion, British Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones said the U.K. government is keen to assist the Lagos State government in the area of water transportation, and urban development.
He noted that Griffon Hoverwork, a leading manufacturer of hovercrafts has displayed the capabilities of a hovercraft as a means of reducing carbon emissions and road congestion and supporting growth in the water transport sector.
â€œLagos is Africaâ€™s largest city with lots of capacity, but relies excessively on road vehicles for transport, leading to long and expensive commutes and traffic delays. Through our Future Cities Nigeria programme, we are working with LASWA to develop water transport routes that reduce road traffic congestion, provide safer, cleaner, reduced cost transport and reduce CO2 emissions
â€œItâ€™s great to see these plans start to become reality through this trial of a hovercraft on the Lagos waterways. This demonstrates the range of opportunities and potential for UK and other international businesses in this sector to benefit from the new transport routes,â€ Llewellyn-Jones said.
General Manager, LASWA, Mr. Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, said the UKâ€™s Global Future Cities Programme with the Lagos State government is helping to expand the stateâ€™s waterways transport and improve the environment.
â€œLagos waterways is a key resource to the state and we will continue to work with the UK government to make water transportation a viable, reliable and alternative means of transport for the people of Lagos,â€ Emmanuel said.
In collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Nigerian Navy, the UK have used medical hovercrafts to reach the remote areas of Delta in Southsouth Nigeria and the Northeast, providing healthcare to underserved communities.