Last October India announced it would once again welcome international travellers after 18 months of closure. Now, over a year later, the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is relaxing most of the Covid-related travel restrictions.
In the latest guidelines for international travellers, posted by the government on 21 November, India announced the relaxation of Covid-related travel restrictions, including vaccination, which is now only preferable, not mandatory. The decision was taken in light of the decreasing number of active cases in the country.
As of 22 November, all travellers “should preferably be fully vaccinated as per the approved primary schedule of vaccination against Covid-19 in their country”, the statement reads. During travel, the wearing of facemasks and physical distancing are now preferable, but not mandatory, and should be announced in flight and at all points of entry.
Passengers are also no longer obliged to fill out the Air Suvidha form, India’s passenger locator form, before departure. Until now, all travellers heading to India had to fill the declaration before being allowed to board their flights, but the measure had been increasingly criticised by both passengers and the country’s hospitality sector.
With the aviation chaos of the past few months, many people had to make last minute changes to their itineraries, having to fill out a new form every time, which led to some missing their flights because of the missing document. Moreover, the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India requested authorities in October to scrap the measure as they said it was harming the recovery of the tourism sector.
Any passengers showing Covid-19 symptoms during travel will be isolated as per standard protocol, meaning they should be wearing a facemask, will be isolated and segregated from other passengers in flight and shifted to an isolation facility for follow up treatment.
At arrival, passengers will go through a quick check from health officials at the point of entry, including thermal screening. Those who are found symptomatic during this screening will also be immediately isolated and taken to designated health facilities.
Furthermore, the government asks travellers to self-monitor their health during their entire stay in India and, in case they start having any symptoms, immediately report to their nearest health facility or call the State or National helpline numbers.