India activates new international travel guidelines


The Union health ministry has issued a set of revised guidelines for international arrivals, that kicked in from yesterday. As per the new guidelines, five categories of passengers are exempted from the mandatory seven-day institutional quarantine such as pregnant women, children below 10 years of age and passengers who are suffering from serious illnesses. Last month, India formed air travel bubbles with countries like the US, the UAE, France and Germany under which airlines of both the countries are allowed to operate special international flights with certain restrictions.

Following are the key guidelines to be followed:

1) All travellers should submit a self-declaration form on theonline portal at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel.

2) Passengers should also give an undertaking on the portal that they would undergo mandatory seven-days institutional quarantine, at their own cost, followed by seven days of home quarantine with self-monitoring of health.

3) A total of five categories of passengers can get exemption from the mandatory seven-day institutional quarantine — pregnant women; those who have suffered death in the family; those suffering from a serious illness; parents accompanying children below 10 years of age, and those who have COVID-negative certificate from a test done 96 hours prior to the journey.

4) If they wish to seek such exemption, they shall apply to the Delhi airport portal at least 72 hours before boarding. The decision taken by the government as communicated on the online portal will be final.

5) All other international passengers arriving in India have to follow the usual process of undergoing mandatory seven-days institutional quarantine, at their own cost, followed by seven days of home quarantine.

6) Every passenger has to submit a self-declaration form that they have not tested positive for COVID-19 during the three weeks prior to the flight.

Dos and Don’ts

1) Passengers have been asked to download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones.

2) Before boarding the plane or ship, the guidelines said the dos and don’ts shall be provided along with the tickets to travellers by the agencies concerned.

3) The guidelines also said that at the time of boarding the plane or ship, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after thermal screening.

During travel

1) Suitable precautionary measures such as environmental sanitation and disinfection shall be ensured at the airports and during boarding; and at the airports, all possible measures to ensure social distancing to be ensured.

2) While on board the flight or ship, required precautions such as wearing masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene are to be observed by airline/ship staff, crew and all passengers.

On arrival

1) On arrival, the guidelines said deboarding should be done ensuring social distancing.

2) Thermal screening would be carried out for all the passengers by the Health officials present at the airport/seaport/land port.

3) The self-declaration form filled online shall be shown (or a copy of physical self-declaration form to be submitted) to the airport health staff.

4) The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility as per protocol.

Post thermal screening, the guidelines said the passengers who have been exempted from institutional quarantine will show the same to the respective state counters on their cell phones/other modes before being allowed home quarantine for 14 days.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international repatriation flights and international charter flights have been permitted by the aviation regulator DGCA. Since May 6, special international flights have been operated by Air India under the Vande Bharat Mission to help stranded people reach their destinations. Private carriers have also operated a certain number of flights under this mission.