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Travellers could avoid quarantine after both Covid vaccine doses under plans to resume foreign holidays - EDINBURGH NEWS

APRIL 03, 2021

UK travellers who have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine could avoid quarantine measures, under government plans to resume foreign holidays.

a group of people standing next to luggage

© Travellers returning to the UK from abroad will be expected to have pre-departure Covid tests (Photo...


Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce when international travel may restart on Monday (5 April).

It is expected that the government will introduce a traffic light system for foreign travel, with countries to be rated as red, amber or green based on Covid infection rates, vaccination levels, and the prevalence of coronavirus variants.

What are the rules on foreign travel?

Overseas holidays are currently banned in the UK due to the current lockdown measures, with travel only permitted in exceptional circumstances, such as for work or study.

Legislation means that people living in England and Wales risk being issued with a £5,000 fine for breaking the rules.

In Scotland, it is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes. The Scottish government has said that foreign travel will not be possible before 17 May and maybe for some time after.

Similarly, in Northern Ireland it is illegal to travel outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Republic of Ireland (ROI), Isle of Man and Channel Islands), unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so.

Covid tests before travel

Mr Johnson is due to outline plans for easing travel restrictions in England on Easter Monday (5 April), including requirements for foreign trips.

Travellers returning to the UK from abroad will be expected to have pre-departure Covid tests regardless of their vaccination status, according to plans from the government’s global travel taskforce.

However, those who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus could need fewer tests when returning from low-risk countries.

People who have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine may also avoid having to quarantine for 10 days following a visit to medium-risk countries, according to The Telegraph.

It comes after the Times reported on Friday (2 April) that travel to and from red-list countries will be banned, while green-list countries are expected to be free from quarantine measures.

Any restrictions on travelling abroad could see Brits shun international travel in favour of a domestic holiday, with scientific experts recommending that staycations should be encouraged over foreign trips this year.

Hesitancy towards the Covid-19 vaccine across parts of mainland Europe may also see popular tourist spots avoided by UK holidaymakers, with these locations deemed more high-risk than the likes of the US and Israel, where vaccination rates are good.

How would a traffic light system work?

A traffic light system for travel would allocate countries a colour depending whether they are safe for travellers to visit for a summer holiday.

Reports have suggested that no travel restrictions would be attached to green countries, but those returning from yellow listed countries would be required to present proof of Covid-19 testing and/or vaccination before entering the UK. Although no quarantine requirements would be in place in this case.

Travel to and from an amber country would require a coronavirus test within seven hours of departure and arrival to and from the UK, with travellers able to leave quarantine on the third day if they test negative.

No entry would be permitted from red-list countries with limited exceptions.

UWTO Wants More Collaboration Between Countries for a Safe Restart of International Tourism - SCHENGEN VISA INFO

APRIL 05, 2021

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) continues to require stronger coordination between countries on travel customs in order to assure safe restart of tourism and prevent another year of tremendous losses in the industry.

The request follows a previous call of the UNWTO for a balanced and eco-friendly restart of tourism at the ITB Berlin Now earlier in March, concerning the hardships that the sector is going through.

The disastrous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on global tourism is still prevailing in 2021, with the new UNWTO’s statistics showing an 87 per cent decrease in international tourist arrivals this January in comparison to the same time last year.

The tourism sector suffered even more due to the stringent travel restrictions most countries imposed to contain the further spread of the COVID-19.

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer’s latest publication, regions all over the world experienced large-scale drops in tourist arrivals during the first month of the year. Obligatory testing, self-isolation, and occasional total border shutdowns have hugely affected international travel recovery. Additionally, the vaccine rollout procedure has not been as fast as anticipated, causing further tourism restart delays.

In a press release, UNWTO pointed out that Asia and the Pacific recorded the largest decrease of 96 per cent in international arrivals during January due to the travel restrictions currently effective in these regions.

Similarly, Europe and Africa experienced a drop of 85 per cent in arrivals, whereas the Middle East recorded a decline of 84 per cent. Likewise, in North and South America the international arrivals dropped by 77 per cent.

“2020 was the worst year on record for tourism. Improved coordination between countries and harmonized travel and health protocols are essential to restore confidence in tourism and allow international travel to resume safely ahead of the peak summer season in the northern hemisphere,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, commenting on the travel and tourism sector’s current situation.

UNWTO foresees a challenging first few months of 2021 regarding international tourism since 32 per cent of international destinations were completely shut down at the beginning of February, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Given the current patterns observed, UNWTO anticipates international arrivals to decrease by around 85 per cent in the first four months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, representing a loss of approximately 260 million international arrivals compared to the pre-pandemic period.

UNWTO explained that two scenarios regarding the recovery of international travel in the second half of 2021 have already been outlined. The scenarios are based on several components, particularly on the lifting of travel restrictions, successful vaccination schemes, as well as a common Digital Green Certificate established by the European Commission.

The first scenario refers to a rebound in July, which would stimulate an increase of 66 per cent in international arrivals in 2021 compared to the all-time low of 2020. However, the arrivals would still be 55 per cent below the amount recorded in 2019.

The second scenario estimated a possible rebound in September, resulting in an increase of 22 per cent in international arrivals compared to the last year.

Portugal reopens museums, cafe terraces and schools - AFP

APRIL 05, 2021

Portugal on Monday reopened museums, cafe terraces, and secondary schools nearly two months after tightening Covid-19 curbs following a wave of cases early this year.

There was an explosion of cases following Christmas and New Year festivities which led to overstretched hospitals and the government imposed a general lockdown in the middle of January and closed schools a week later.

There have been nearly 16,900 coronavirus deaths and 823,335 cases so far, according to an official tally on Sunday.

Primary schools reopened on March 15.

Monday’s easing comes with some guidelines. Only four people will be able to sit together at a table in cafe terraces while museums can change their opening hours.

Group training sessions at gyms and sports venues remain banned.

“We are expecting very few visitors” due to the paucity of foreign tourists, Antonio Nunes Pereira, director of the Palace of Pena in Sintra, outside Lisbon, told AFP.

“We expect a return to normal next summer… when the vaccination process advances in Europe,” he said.

The museum is one of Portugal’s most visited sites and drew over two million visitors in 2019. Eighty-five percent of them were foreigners.

The government has launched mass Covid tests and started vaccinating teachers.

It plans to start reopening high schools, universities and auditoriums, and concert halls later this month and restaurants in May.

The situation is being reviewed every two weeks and the government can tighten restrictions in municipalities with a high number of cases.

Portugal has suspended flights with Brazil and Britain to ward off the new variants that emerged in those countries and tightened controls on the land border with Spain.

World Reimagined: Can Digital Vaccine Passports Help Save the Tourism Industry? -

APRIL 05, 2021

BY  Chris VersaceLenore Elle Hawkins and 

Amid another round of surging COVID-19 case counts, there is keen interest to leverage technology to facilitate the re-opening of the global economy. Following the pandemic that led to the near-collapse of the travel and tourism industry, a fall that dealt a harsh economic blow over the last year, there are several initiatives underway to help revive that industry, with digital vaccine passports being one of the more prominent efforts.

The Economic Devastation from Covid to Travel & Tourism

According to data published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WWTC), the Travel & Tourism sector accounted for 10.3% of global GDP and roughly 330 million jobs in 2019. That industry came to a grinding halt when the COVID-19 pandemic led to restrictions and lockdowns, curbing travel and other economic activity. As a result, that sector’s contribution to global GDP in 2020 fell by 49.1% to €4 trillion in 2020, roughly 5.5% of the global economy according to WTTC findings. That sharp drop contributed to the decline in global GDP in 2020, which contracted 3.5% per data from the International Monetary Fund.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said, “With the sector’s contribution to GDP plunging by almost half, it’s more important than ever that Travel & Tourism is given the support needed so it can help power the economic recovery, which will be instrumental in enabling the world to revive from the effects of the pandemic.”

Along with global vaccine rollout, the WTTC said the introduction of digital health passes would support the tourism sector's recovery in 2021 and 2022.

Enter the Vaccine Passport

The health pass is what’s come to be referred to as a vaccine passport, which is proof that you’ve tested negative for or have been protected against certain infections. While the term may be new for many, this is actually not a new concept. International travelers to Ghana, parts of South America, and Afghanistan will share they’ve had to carry a yellow card to prove they had been vaccinated against diseases such as yellow fever, tuberculosis, cholera, and rubella. These yellow cards were referred to as vaccine cards or medical passports. Other similar medical passports are or were used to protect against smallpox, polio, and meningococcal meningitis, for example. 

Essentially a vaccine passport is a new version of the “Yellow Card” that has been updated to reflect our digital world by taking advantage of our smartphones. Digital vaccine passports are considered more secure and more efficient than paper documents. In January, President Biden issued an executive order directing agencies to assess the feasibility of linking coronavirus vaccinations to vaccine cards and producing a digital version. More recently, it was revealed that the Biden administration would work with the private sector to build a vaccine credential program that would allow people to prove they’ve been inoculated against COVID-19.

In late March, the Excelsior Pass app, which shares vaccination and negative test results with art and entertainment venues and businesses by using a scannable QR code, was launched. Per the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine website, this is how the Excelsior Pass works:

“Attend sporting events, arts performances, and more! Excelsior Pass supports a safe reopening of New York by providing a free, fast, and secure way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results. Think of it as a mobile airline boarding pass, but for proving you received a COVID-19 vaccination or negative test.

You can store your Pass digitally on your smartphone with the Excelsior Pass Wallet app, available for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. You can also print your Pass from the Excelsior Pass website and bring it with you.

Businesses and venues can scan and validate your pass to ensure you meet any COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements for entry. Along with your Pass, you’ll be asked to show a photo ID that shows your name and birth date to verify that the Pass belongs to you.”

The Excelsior Pass is only one of many initiatives. IBM (IBM) is working on a "digital health pass" that uses blockchain technology "to bring people back to a physical location, such as a workplace, school, stadium or airline flight."

The Vaccination Credential Initiative is another effort that consists of a collection of public and private companies -- including Cerner (CERN), Microsoft (MSFT), the Mayo Clinic, Oracle (ORCL), and Salesforce (CRM) as well as hospitals and pharmacies that are administering vaccines -- working together to develop “COVID-19 vaccine digital passport technology.” The Initiative, which targets testing this spring, is striving to provide people with encrypted digital copies of their immunization records in a digital wallet of their choice that also provides governments and employers access to a “solid, widely accepted verification program.

Other large entities are also developing their own passport solution. The global airline industry’s International Air Transport Association is developing a mobile application called "Travel Pass" that displays coronavirus test results or proof of inoculation. The free Travel Pass is being piloted by 14 non-U.S. airlines and is expected to be available in iOS and Android app stores soon.

Public Sector Efforts

The European Union recently proposed a "Digital Green Certificate to facilitate the safe, free movement of citizens within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic." Like the other passes described above, it would be digital proof that the person has been vaccinated, tested negative, or recovered from the coronavirus. Over in the UK, survey findings from Ipsos MORI found that 78% of Britons surveyed support the idea of vaccine passports. On April 5, the British government is expected to provide an update on its vaccine passport prospects. Several countries have embraced the concept of a vaccine passport for their citizens, including China and Denmark. Similarly, other nations such as Iceland and Greece have welcomed vaccinated travelers from across the globe.

In Asia, digital vaccine passports will make their debut in Japan in the coming weeks and will be available through a mobile app linked to the government's vaccination program. South Korea is leveraging blockchain technology to introduce a digital certification system to verify a person’s COVID-19 vaccine status. These passports will join China’s International Travel Health Certificate (ITHC) that launched on March 9, which according to China’s foreign ministry, houses a person’s coronavirus test results, vaccination records, and antibody test results. Interestingly, to sign up, a user enters their passport number in a foreign ministry-owned mini program on Tencent’s WeChat instant-messaging platform. Face recognition technology is used to verify your identity before producing the certificate.

The "But"

The above shows a clear sign there is vested economic interest in jump-starting the travel and tourism industry to help revive the global economy. And while leveraging technology can lead to a more secure set of solutions, one of the downsides of our increasingly connected and digital society is the risk of personal information and privacy being compromised.

Even as the growing list of companies and other entities race to bring digital vaccine passports to market, the looming questions to ask are ones of standardization, potential privacy violations amid the growing number of data privacy and protection laws, and how to build user trust amid increasingly frequent cyberattacks. But as we’ve seen in the past, pain points cry out for solutions, and given the economic benefits of jumpstarting the tourism industry, there will likely be an effort towards enabling travelers to be able to safely undertake their journeys.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

UK To Announce New International Travel Rules - TVC360

APRIL 05, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to meet the cabinet to sign off the next stage of lockdown easing in England, which will see non-essential shops reopen and pubs and restaurants start serving outdoors from 12 April.

Afterwards, the prime minister will hold a Downing Street briefing, where he is expected to confirm countries will be graded under a traffic light system when international leisure travel resumes.

Downing Street had earlier disclosed in a statement late Saturday that travel destinations will be ranked green, amber or red according to virus risk.

The announcement comes as the UK has set a tentative date of May 17 to relaunch international travel.

The government said the new system “will help ensure the UK’s vaccine progress isn’t jeopardised and provide clear guidance for travellers”.

People heading to low-risk “green” countries will simply take a virus test before and after they travel, the government said.

But those going to amber or red countries will have to self-isolate or quarantine afterwards.

Currently people arriving in the UK from abroad are required to self-isolate for 10 days.

Johnson is also set to outline plans for coronavirus passports – recording whether people had been vaccinated, recently tested negative or had natural immunity – as a means of enabling mass-audience events to take place in the future.

The government has also announced that everyone in England is to be given access to two rapid coronavirus tests a week from Friday, under an extension of its testing programme.

The lateral flow kits, which can provide results in around 30 minutes, will be available for free at testing sites, pharmacies and through the post.

The health secretary said it would help squash any outbreaks as lockdown eases but critics of the programme say it risks becoming a “scandalous” waste of money.

The UK has already given out more than 31 million first vaccine doses and over 5 million second doses.

Greece reopens shops despite high infection rate - AFP

APRIL 05, 2021

New cases of the virus have been reported at a rate of more than 3,000 per day

Greece on Monday relaxed a nationwide lockdown by opening most retail shops despite a high level of Covid-19 infections and fatalities.

By allowing people to “decompress” outside their homes as the weather improves, the government hopes to also stem damage to the economy that has taken a major revenue blow from reduced tourism.

Customers must pre-book appointments before visiting shops and up to 20 people will be allowed inside at a time. 

“We are fully booked till Saturday. It’s going to be a good month,” Filippos Hortis, an Athens sports store owner, told Skai TV.

Critics have noted the paradox of the lockdown being relaxed while new cases of the virus are reported at a rate of more than 3,000 daily.

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That is about 1,000 more than when the restrictions were announced in November, with the daily number of deaths now more than double.

“I too was surprised when informed of the recommendation (to reopen stores) seeing the daily increase (in infections),” the governor of Central Macedonia prefecture Apostolos Tzitzikostas told Skai TV.

Monday’s reopening does not affect department stores and malls, whose operation will be re-evaluated later in April.

Restrictions on retail also remain in place in areas around Thessaloniki and Patras, Greece’s largest cities after Athens, because of spiking infections.

The finance ministry on Monday announced additional support measures for closed stores to mitigate anger among retail owners in affected areas.

Greece has so far registered more than 275,000 coronavirus cases and over 8,300 deaths since the start of the pandemic, including nearly 150 over the weekend.

Some 750 people are in intensive care. 

A firm backer of European vaccine passports, Greece is hoping to kickstart its tourism season from mid-May onwards to claw back some badly needed revenue.

Greece expects to spend some 11.6 billion euros (US$14 billion) this year to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on its economy, on top of 24 billion euros spent in 2020.

The Greek budget forecasts economic growth of 4.8%, scaled back from an earlier 7.5% estimate owing to lockdown.


Delta cancels about 100 flights, opens some middle seats - THE CANADIAN PRESS

APRIL 05, 2021

DETROIT — Delta Air Lines cancelled about 100 flights Sunday due to staff shortages, and it opened up middle seats a month earlier than expected in order to carry more passengers.

The airline says it had over 1 million passengers during the past few days, the highest number since before the coronavirus pandemic began last year.

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience, and the majority have been rebooked for the same travel day,” the airline said Sunday in a statement.

Delta took steps to increase passenger capacity, including opening middle seats on Sunday and Monday, in an effort to accommodate passengers.

On Wednesday, the airline announced that it would stop blocking off middle seats starting in May. The move was made last April to keep passengers farther apart, a policy that Delta's CEO had repeatedly cited as raising trust in the airline. The seats would be reopened as air travel recovers and more people become vaccinated against COVID-19, the airline said.

Delta said the middle seats were opened just for Sunday and Monday, and its seat-blocking policy has not changed. Where needed, seats could be unblocked in order to get customers to their destinations on the same day.

“Delta teams have been working through various factors, including staffing, large numbers of employee vaccinations and pilots returning to active status," the airline said in the statement. Some employees were having adverse side effects from being vaccinated.

On Sunday, websites at three Delta hubs showed 33 cancelled arriving or departing flights. There were 19 at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, another 11 at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and three more at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

Delta said Wednesday that nearly 65% of people who flew on Delta last year expect to have at least one dose of the new vaccines by May 1. That gave Delta the assurance to end seating limits, it said.

The airline industry was divided over the utility of blocking middle seats to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 on a flight. Airlines including Delta, Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue limited seating for months, while United Airlines never did and American did so only briefly.

Social-distancing is hard if not impossible on an airplane, even with middle seats empty — a point that United CEO Scott Kirby made many times to explain his airline’s resistance to seat-blocking.

Air travel in the United States is recovering from pandemic lows. More than 1 million travellers have gone through U.S. airports for each of the last 20 days, although March traffic remains down nearly half from the same month in 2019.

The numbers are rising heading into the crucial summer vacation season. Last summer was a catastrophe for the airlines, contributing to Delta’s full-year loss of more than $12 billion. The airlines are eager to boost revenue as quickly as possible, and that means selling more seats.

Ibom Air will soon start flight to Gambia – Emmanuel - PUNCH

APRIL 06, 2021

Gov. Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom has said that Ibom Air, the state-owned airline, will extend its flight operations to the Gambia and other West African countries, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

Emmanuel said this when the Gambian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Mohamadou Njie, paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Uyo on Monday.

The governor thanked the Gambian High Commissioner and the President of Gambia for indicating interest in bilateral relations with Akwa Ibom State in the area of commerce, industry and aviation development.

“We are actually planning a regional flight with Ibom Air. So, we hope by next month we should take delivery of two brand new A220 300 series Airbuses, which will be used for regional flights.

“I will get this to be discussed at the board of directors meeting of Ibom Air, so that we can also consider flight to Banjul,” Emmanuel said.

He acknowledged the tourism potential in the Gambia and advised other West African countries to take advantage of the tourism potential that Ibom Air offered. Njie commended the governor for the great achievements recorded by Ibom Air.

He expressed the willingness of his country to have Ibom Air commence flight operations to the Gambia.

The High Commissioner also presented a letter conveying the invitation of President Adama Barrow of the Gambia to Emmanuel for a visit to strengthen industrial and trade relations.

Air France-KLM Gets $4.7 Billion State Aid in Survival Step - BLOOMBERG

APRIL 06, 2021

BY  Tara Patel

(Bloomberg) --

Air France-KLM will receive as much as 4 billion euros ($4.7 billion) in a French rescue plan that may not be enough to see the embattled carrier through the still-raging pandemic.

The package will see the French government reemerge as the biggest investor with a stake that could be just shy of 30%. It comes after months of tough negotiations between shareholders France and the Netherlands, and the European Commission, which has given its blessing. The plan is aimed at giving the carrier some breathing room as it confronts one of the worst crises to hit the airline industry.

With talks still ongoing for possible additional financial aid from the Dutch state as well as as-yet-unspecified measures for the whole group in the coming year, “this is not the end of actions to strengthen the balance sheet,” Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska said in a note.

The long-awaited package from France comes amid a surge in Covid-19 across the region that has forced fresh lockdown measures in the country, and led the U.K. to waver on a May 17 target to reopen for foreign travel. The pandemic has been particularly brutal on European airlines and has prompted other rescues, with the German government taking a 20% stake in Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Italy fully nationalizing bankrupt Alitalia SpA.

For Air France-KLM, “this is the first step” in repairing the unprecedented financial damage wrought by the pandemic, Chief Financial Officer Frederic Gagey said on a call Tuesday with journalists. The support destined for Air France “should be followed by other equity measures” to allow Air France-KLM to return to a normal level of leverage, he said.

The shares were nearly unchanged at 2:04 p.m. in Paris.

Plan Details

The French plan is aimed at easing the carrier’s heavy debt load, which ballooned last year when the two shareholder governments granted a total of 10.4 billion euros in direct loans and state-backed guarantees in response to the initial virus wave, when air traffic came to a virtual standstill.

France will convert its 3 billion-euro direct loan into hybrid instruments. The airline will also proceed with a capital increase of up to 1 billion euros. The operation will bring in cash and lead to a re-jigging of the airline’s shareholding.

The French State will participate in the recapitalization “while keeping its stake strictly below 30% of the share capital and voting rights,” the airline said in a statement. Shareholder China Eastern Airlines will also take part but keep its holding below 10%. Delta Airlines, which has 8.8%, and the Dutch state, which has about 14%, won’t subscribe.

France doesn’t intend to hold more than 29.9% of the share capital of Air France-KLM or take control of the carrier, French and Dutch ministers said in a joint statement. A Dutch package is still being studied and negotiated, they said.

“The acute need at KLM is less urgent,” Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra wrote on Twitter, telling parliament in a letter than the Netherlands’ holding could fall to around 9.3% after the capital increase.

At Odds

France and the Netherlands have often been at odds since the 2004 merger of Air France and KLM, with the Dutch arm long resenting French control, Air France’s weaker profitability and history of labor conflict.

The Netherlands’ stealth acquisition of a stake in the carrier just over two years ago triggered an unprecedented spat. While the move blindsided Paris and laid bare the Dutch intention to exert more influence on Air France-KLM, it remains unclear how this will work when France raises its stake.

In granting permission for the aid package, the EU obtained conditions to offset antitrust concerns. Chief Executive Officer Ben Smith called the talks with the Commission “long and arduous,” but said the 18 daily slots the airline would have to relinquish at Orly airport, outside Paris, to competition won’t hurt its plans to expand its low-cost Transavia arm.

The airline has more than 300 slots at Orly and 1,000 overall serving the French capital when those at Paris-Charles de Gaulle are included. Any carrier acquiring slots from Air France must base its aircraft and crews at the airport “in compliance with national and EU labor laws,” according to the statement. France has long accused budget rivals of skirting employee rules to cut costs.

What Bloomberg Intelligence says:

“While the rollout of vaccines offers Air France-KLM an eventual path to recovery, we believe the company will face numerous headwinds in 2021, including a slow rebound in demand for long-haul travel and a bloated cost structure.”

-- Rob Barnett, BI analyst

The airline warned Tuesday that the third wave of the pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions have hurt first-quarter earnings. It expects operating loss of around 1.3 billion euros.

(Adds details on Dutch holding from 10th paragraph.)

Diaspora Nigerians With Expired Passport Can Now Travel Home - Babandede - LEADERSHIP

APRIL 06, 2021


Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Services Muhammad Babandede has disclosed that diaspora Nigerians who could not travel back home due to closure of some missions abroad in line with Covid-19 compliant policy can now make onward journey back to Nigeria.

Babandede who stated this during a press chat with journalists at the service headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday said that such Nigerians holding expired passports abroad should apply to the Comptroller General of Immigration for approval and clearance before they could proceed to the airport for their onward journey to Nigeria, adding that the Minister of interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had approved the opening of three front offices at Abuja, Kano and Lagos International Airports for the purpose of mitigating the problem.

He said that the service was working with CBN, and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to resolve the technical issues that are hampering the smooth transition of passports renewal for Nigerians who live especially in France, UK, Germany, Italy, S/Arabia and countries that have put stringent measures in place including locking down till date.

While lamenting the increase issue of fake marriages between oreigners and Nigerians ladies to evade payment for Resident Permit, the CG said that the service has concluded plans to work with Federal

Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to resolve the tax payable to government by certain categories of visa holders and resident migrants in the context of taxation of non-resident migrants and persons staying for less than 183 days in the country and earn income in Nigeria.

He further explained that visa on arrival should only be applied for by individuals and not companies who are serving as agents, adding that the newly decentralised Passport Express Processing Centre

launched in Maitama, Abuja will ease the delays Nigerians face in passport issuance while creating new jobs.

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