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Travel to India during COVID-19 

by Vijay Ravi

Published: February, 2021

Submission: February, 2021

 



This article has been updated based on the available information until 20th February 2021. As Government notifications are constantly revised, it is advisable to consult your attorney or visit the website of the relevant Government agency prior to travelling. Further, in additional to the guidelines published by the Central Government, passengers are also requested to refer to State specific official websites to be well informed about any additional requirements.


The Ministry Health of Family & Welfare in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation has constantly reviewed the situation to control inward traffic into India by international travelers to minimize the risk of importation of mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19, as it is commonly referred to. In view of the same, the requisite authorities have periodically issued various guidelines with respect to pre-travel and quarantine requirements which are to be adhered to by airlines as well as travelers coming into India. These requirements may also differ based on the point of embarkation of the individual.



Who is permitted to travel to India?


Presently, the following categories of individuals are permitted to enter the country:



i) All Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders and PIO cardholders holding passports of any country.


ii) All foreign nationals intending to visit India for any purpose (including their dependents on a dependent visa), except those on Tourist Visa.


iii) All existing visas, except electronic visas (e-Visa), Tourist visa and Medical Visa, which remained suspended, shall stand restored with immediate effect. If the validity of such visa has expired, the foreign national may obtain a fresh visa of appropriate category/sub-category from the Indian Mission/Post concerned.


iv) In case any foreign national not covered by categories mentioned in (i) above is required to visit India urgently due to any family emergency, the Indian Missions/Posts are authorized to issue single entry X-Misc visa for the appropriate period.


Travel Requirements


Due to the numerous variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus present in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, the authorities have prescribed additional guidelines for international travelers coming into India from the said destinations. In view of the same, the obligations (pre- travel and post arrival) to be undertaken by each traveler, have been divided into the below categories:


A. All international travelers except travelers coming through flights originating from the United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East; and


B. All international travelers coming/transiting through flights originating from the United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East.


Kindly note that the present guidelines shall be in effect from 23rd February, 2021 until further notification by the requisite authority.


A. All international travelers except travelers coming through flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East


Pre-Travel Requirements


All travelers are required to perform the below mentioned tasks prior to boarding the flight:


i) Upload the following documents on the Air Suvidha portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) before the scheduled travel:


a) A self-declaration form (“SDF”) in the format as provided on the portal. Kindly also carry a printed copy of the said declaration while travelling;


b) a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report. This test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. Further, a copy of the said report must also be carried in person;


c) a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise; and


d) an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India, through concerned airlines that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo home quarantine/ self-monitoring of their health for 14 days, or as warranted, if required.


ii) All passengers shall be advised to download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices.


Kindly note that travel to India without negative report shall only be allowed for those traveling in the exigency of a death in the family. In the event such exemption is sought by an individual, he/she shall apply on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before boarding. Such passengers would be tested upon arrival at the India airport.


On arrival


All travelers are required to adhere to the below protocol upon arrival:



i) The SDF filled online is required to be shown to the airport health staff;


ii) The passengers found to be symptomatic during the thermal screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per the prescribed guidelines.


iii) Passengers who have uploaded RT-PCR negative certificates on the Air Suvidha may exit the airport/take transit flights. However, such passengers are required to undertake self-monitoring of their health for 14 days. In the event any passenger develops symptoms of COVID-19, he/she is required to inform the requisite State/National Call Centers.


B. All international travelers coming from/transiting through flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East


In addition to all the above-mentioned obligations in Part A above, the below mentioned heightened measures with respect to testing, quarantine and isolation would also apply to passengers coming from/transiting through flights originating from the United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East.


While filling the SDF, apart from providing all other information required passengers are required to intimate whether they plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take further flights to reach their final destination in India.


Mandatory RT-PCR Test at the Arrival Airport


All travelers arriving from/transiting through flights originating in the United Kingdom, Europe or Middle East shall be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports. Certain airports also offer booking of the said test on the online portal.


Transit Passengers


i) In the event the passenger is in transit, the receipt of the SDF (as received from the online portal) will display “T” (Transit) in easily readable and bigger font than other text. This receipt must be displayed to the State authority / Government officials at the airport upon arrival.


ii) Passengers should keep a minimum transit time of 6-8 hours at the entry airport (in India) while booking connecting flights to undertake the mandatory molecular test. Passengers will only be permitted to exit the designated area only after confirmation of a negative test.


iii) If tested Negative: Those transit travelers from UK, Brazil and South Africa who are found negative on testing at the airport shall be allowed to take their connecting flights and would be advised quarantine at home for 7 days and regularly followed up by the concerned State/District IDSP. These travelers shall be tested after 7 days and if negative, released from quarantine, and continue to monitor their health for a further 7 days.


iv) If tested Positive: All the passengers who test positive shall undergo the procedure as detailed hereinafter.


Exiting Passengers


i) All travelers from UK, Brazil and South Africa exiting at the arrival airport in India are required to undergo the following procedure with respect to testing and quarantine:


a) Travelers shall give their sample in the designated area and exit the airport. Thereafter, it would be followed up by the State Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (“IDSP”).
b) The concerned State authorities/airport operators will collect and convey the test report to the traveler.


c) If tested Negative: If a passenger tests negative, he/she would be required to remain in home quarantine for 7 days and regularly followed up by the concerned State/District IDSP. These passengers shall be tested again after 7 days and if negative, released from quarantine. However, they would be required to continue to monitor their health for a further 7 days.


d) If tested Positive: All the passengers who test positive shall undergo the procedure as detailed hereinafter.


ii) All travelers from Europe and Middle East (other than those in flights originating from Brazil, South Africa and United Kingdom) who have to exit the destination airport shall be required to follow the following protocol:


a) Travelers shall give their sample in the designated area and exit the airport. Thereafter, it would be followed up by the State Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (“IDSP”).


b) The concerned State authorities/airport operators will collect and convey the test report to the traveler.


c) If tested Negative: If a passenger tests negative, he/she would be required to self-monitor their health for 14 days.


d) If tested Positive: All the passengers who test positive shall undergo the procedure as detailed hereinafter.


Procedure for travelers from Brazil, South Africa and United Kingdom Testing Positive


a) Travelers coming from Brazil, South Africa and United Kingdom who test positive either (i) at the airport; or (ii) subsequently during home quarantine period; shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate isolation unit coordinated by the respective State Health Authorities.


b) If the report of the testing conducting in the isolation facility is consistent with the current SARS-CoV-2 virus genome circulating in the country; the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation/treatment at facility level as per case severity may be followed.


c) However, if the test indicates the presence of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. While necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the patient shall be tested on 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the isolation facility till his/her sample is tested negative.


d) All the contacts of travelers arriving from UK, South Africa and Brazil who consequently test positive shall also be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate quarantine centers and would be tested on the 7th day (or early if develop symptoms).


International Travelers on short stay


International travelers (covered under Part A or Part B) on short stay (less than 14 days) and who have tested negative and remain symptom free, shall undergo all the procedures as mentioned above.



Prior to departing from India, such traveler would be required to intimate their District/State health authorities and their departure shall be subject to them fulfilling the requirement of the airlines and destination country.


We trust the above travel requirements assist you in ensuring your travel to India would be seamless and unconstrained.


 


 



 


 

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