Several countries have placed travel ban on India as the country is experiencing its worst wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
At least 9 countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, France, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Oman – have imposed new restrictions on travel to and from India.
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates on Thursday banned all flights from India for a period of 10 days starting Sunday (25th April 2021). The suspension of flights is subject to a review after 10 days.
Emirates in a travel advisory on its website says:
Effective 24 April 2021 Saturday, 2359 local time Dubai and for the next 10 days, Emirates flights from India to the UAE will be suspended. Furthermore, passengers who have transited through India in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE.
Air India’s subsidiary Air India Express said:
General Authority of Civil Aviation UAE has suspended all inbound passenger movement to the UAE from India (excluding UAE nationals)… Passengers booked to fly with us during this period will be able to reschedule their tickets once the restrictions are lifted.
The ban will not apply to UAE nationals, diplomatic passport holders, official delegations, and “golden residency” visa holders, though they will be required to take further preventive measures such as a 10-day quarantine and a RT-PCR test at the airport.
India has become the latest country to be added to UK’s ‘Red List’. This means that from 04:00 BST on 23rd April 2021, travel to England from India is largely banned.
Speaking in the Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government had made the ‘difficult decision’ to add India to the list.
According to BBC, the government of UK is in the process of examining an Indian variant of COVID-19 to determine whether it should be considered a ‘variant of concern’.
As of now, United States has not imposed any travel ban on India. However, on Monday (19th April 2021), the United States advised its citizens to avoid travelling to India, even if they are fully vaccinated, as there is a “very high level” of COVID-19 in the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which uses science-based Travel Health Notices to alert travellers to health threats around the world and advise on how to protect themselves, noted that “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unprecedented risks to travellers”.
The CDC, which has a four-level system for COVID-19, placed India in ‘Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19’.
CDC in a statement said:
Travellers should avoid all travel to India. Because of the current situation in India even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to India. If you must travel to India, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travellers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced that with effect from 11.59 pm local time on Friday, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with travel history, including transit, to India in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Singapore, or to transit through the country.
Singapore on Tuesday had announced mandatory 7-day home quarantine for travellers arriving from India, in addition to the 14-day compulsory institutional quarantine upon arrival, effective Thursday. The new restrictions supersede these older ones.
On Wednesday, Oman barred the entry of travellers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh from 24th April 2021.
The ban will also cover travellers who transited through any of the three South Asian countries over the past 14 days, Oman’s Supreme Committee announced.
France has put India on the list of countries, travellers from where need to undergo mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
The Australian government has decided to temporarily reduce the number of flights from India by 30% after registering a spike in incoming travellers testing positive for COVID-19. People coming from high-risk countries such as India will also have to test negative for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before boarding a flight to Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the reduction will apply to government-organised repatriation flights and commercial flights. The change will take effect “in the months ahead”, he said without giving details.
Authorities in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) said there would be changes to the schedule of repatriation flights from India to Howard Springs and the requirements for travellers. “All repatriation flights not yet booked but planned for the NT for May will now be deferred until June,” chief minister Michael Gunner was quoted as saying by ABC News.
“Anyone returning from India on these flights and all flights thereafter will be required to isolate for two weeks prior to departure,” he said.
The move follows the Howard Springs quarantine facility dealing with the highest number of Covid-19 cases since it began handling repatriation flights last year, with most cases recorded among arrivals from India.
On Sunday (18th April 2021), Hong Kong suspended all flights from India till 3rd May.
The Hong Kong government has also suspended flights to and from Pakistan as well as the Philippines for the aforementioned time period.
The Hong Kong government’s decision came after 50 passengers of two Vistara flights this month were found positive for COVID-19 when tested on arrival. According to rules, all passengers who want to come to Hong Kong need to have a COVID-negative RTPCR result with them from a test done 72 hours prior to the journey.
New Zealand had already announced a temporary ban on travellers coming from India on 8th April, including its citizens, from 11th April to 28th April.
The travel restriction came in the aftermath of the country recorded a mere 23 new positive coronavirus cases, of which 17 came from India, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield was quoted as saying by media reports.
Israel issued a travel advisory on Thursday warning citizens including those who have recovered from or been vaccinated against COVID-19, to refrain from travelling to India, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey because of high COVID morbidity rates in the seven countries.
The statement from the Israeli health ministry also noted the presence of alarming COVID variants in the seven countries, and recommended that the public avoid all travel outside of Israel if possible
Canada on Thursday said that it would ban flights from India and Pakistan for a period of 30 days due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in that region.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the ban would start late Thursday, speaking hours after India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections in the previous 24-hours.
Air Canada in a statement on its website says:
Air Canada flights to and from Delhi have been temporarily suspended from 11:30pm on April 22, 2021 for the next 30 days due to a directive from the Government of Canada to suspend all direct passenger flights from India. If your travel plans are affected, please contact your travel agent or speak with one of our agents to discuss your options.
Travellers travelling to and from India are advised to check that you meet all entry or transit requirements for each country on your itinerary. Travellers are advised to contact the respective airline for any further queries.
The decision to issue travel bans comes as India tackles the largest COVID-19 wave in the world. The country saw 332,530 cases on Thursday, the highest daily toll for any country in the world ever. Moreover, fears of a new variant that is more dangerous has also pushed countries to ban travel. For now, don’t expect restrictions to be eased any time soon.
What do you think about the decision to ban travel from India? Are your travel plans affected? Let me know in the comments section below.