Amid the ever-increasing deadly coronavirus cases, so far, at least 10 to 11 countries have taken precautionary steps and have issued advisories against travelling to or from India. This comes at a time when India has registered over 3 lakh cases for the second straight day on Friday, clocking 3,32,730 cases in the last 24 hours, as per the Union Health Ministry.
Countries that have issued fresh travel restrictions, owing to the massive spike in COVID19 cases, include Canada, the UAE, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, New Zealand, Oman, the US and the United Kingdom.
In case if you have already booked ticket to travel to one of these countries from India, here’s what you should know.
If you have already booked ticket to one of these countries, don’t panic. Please note that these jurisdictions have imposed a ban on travel with a grace period. Yes, that’s right! For instance, flights to UAE will be suspended effective Saturday, April 24 – 23:59 local time Dubai. So, if a passenger is booked to travel to destinations such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, etc after that date, firstly they should reach out to their airlines, which would be Emirates, Etihad, FlyDubai, Air Arabia or Indian carriers like IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air India and Air India Express.
On Thursday, AI Express, in an advisory, said passengers “booked to fly with us during this period will be able to reschedule their tickets once the restrictions are lifted”. Currently, the UAE travel restrictions are in place for 10 days, following which there will be a review. Similarly, Singapore’s ban is also effective Friday 11.59 pm local time, Oman’s restrictions begin from Saturday 6 pm local time, and Canada’s ban started late Thursday local time.
So, if you are booked to travel to India from one of these countries, what happens then?
Well, given that the restrictions have been imposed on outbound travel from India, and there is no binding prohibition on travelling to India, except for the USA and Israel, it is expected that most of the airlines will continue to operate flights from these countries to India.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised Americans to avoid all travel to India even if they are vaccinated. CDC placed India among “level 4” countries, or those with “very high” levels of Covid-19 cases. “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,” CDC said.
Meanwhile Israel issued a travel advisory on April 22 warning its citizens, including those who have recovered from COVID-19 or have been vaccinated against the viral infection, to refrain from travelling to India, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey. The statement from the Israeli health ministry also noted the presence of “alarming” COVID-19 variants in the seven countries, and recommended that the public avoid all travel outside of Israel if possible.
The Indian Express quoted a senior executive of a Dubai-based airline who said that whether they operate flights to India will be a commercial decision and that if passenger loads are not enough on UAE-India leg, they might cancel these flights.
In addition, the Associated Press (AP) reported Canada was “banning all flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days”, with the exception of cargo flights.
Why are these travel restrictions for Indian travelers put in place?
Quite obviously, most of these countries have cited the rising number of COVID-19 cases in India as the reason behind their decision. Some, like the UK and Hong Kong, have even expressed concern at the risk of importing the mutant variant of coronavirus from India behind restricting their borders. As per the Ministry of Health and Family welfare, as of Friday 8 am, there were 24,28,616 active Covid-19 cases in the country, an increase of 1,37,188 over the previous day. Currently, the coronavirus death toll stands at 186,920 in India.