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India issues new guidelines easing restrictions on foreign arrivals

New Delhi, Feb 10 (Staff & IANS) India’s travel and tourism players have welcomed the Centre’s latest guidelines easing the restrictions on foreign arrivals.

The Centre has removed the clause of a seven-day quarantine period for all nationals. Besides, it has removed the “at-risk” countries list, a feature that placed extra restrictions on arrivals from these places.

The Central government also recommended 14 days of self-monitoring post-arrival as against 7 days of home quarantine as was mandated earlier. “Besides uploading negative RT-PCR report (taken 72 hrs prior to journey), option to upload a certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of COVID-19 vaccination provided from countries on a reciprocal basis,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of Health.

“We would further urge for early resumption of the normal schedule of International Flight Operations as per bilateral agreements which were in force before March 2020,” Indian Association of Tour Operators’ President Rajiv Mehra said.

“Presently there are only limited air bubble flights that are operating to some selected countries and airfares are exorbitant. Once normal international flight operation is resumed, airfares will come down drastically, and this will boost the arrival of foreign tourists to India.”

ixigo Co-founder & Group CPTO Rajnish Kumar said: “International travel has seen the slowest pace of recovery so far due to multiple waves and strict travel protocols. The new relaxation in rules will help restore international travel confidence and promote foreign tourist flows.

“This encouraging move will usher meaningful recovery in inbound tourism especially for destinations like Udaipur, Jaipur, Kerala, Agra and Goa which were popular choices for foreign tourists pre-Covid.”

Full draft of Guidelines for International Arrivals issued by the Ministry of Health:

Planning for Travel 

i. All travelers should a. Submit complete and factual information in self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal (https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airsuvidha/apho-registration) before the scheduled travel, including last 14 days travel details. 

b. Upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report* (The test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey) or Certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of COVID-19 vaccination. 

c. Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise. ii. They should also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, through concerned airlines before they are allowed to undertake the journey that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority any post arrival requirement to undergo home/institutional quarantine/ self-health monitoring, as warranted.

iii. Do’s and Don’ts shall be provided along with ticket to the travelers by the airlines/agencies concerned. iv. Airlines to allow boarding by only those passengers who have filled in all the information in the Self Declaration Form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report or Covid -19 vaccination certificate of having completed the primary vaccination schedule. 

v. At the time of boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after thermal screening. 

vi. All passengers shall be advised to download Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices. A.3. During Travel 

vii. In-flight announcements about COVID-19 including precautionary measures to be followed shall be made at airports and in flights and during transit. 

viii. During in-flight crew shall ensure that COVID appropriate behavior is followed at all times. 

ix. If any passenger reports symptoms of COVID-19 during flight, he/she shall be isolated as per protocol. 

x. Proper in-flight announcements should be made by the airlines regarding the testing requirements and people who need to undergo such testing to avoid any congestion at the arrival airports. A.4. On arrival 

xi. De-boarding should be done ensuring physical distancing.

xii. Thermal screening would be carried out in respect of all the passengers by the health officials present at the airport. The self-declaration form filled online shall be shown to the airport health staff.

xiii. The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per health protocol. If tested positive, their contacts shall be identified and managed as per laid down protocol . 

xiv. The following protocol post arrival shall also be followed a. A sub-section (2% of the total passengers in the flight) shall undergo random postarrival testing at the airport on arrival. b. Such travelers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines (preferably from different countries). They will submit the samples and shall be allowed to leave the airport. 

c. If such travelers are tested positive, their samples should be further sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network. 

d. They shall be treated/isolated as per laid down standard protocol. xv. All travellers will self-monitor their health for next 14 days of arrival. 

xvi. If travelers under self-health monitoring, develop signs and symptoms suggestive of COVID19, they will immediately self-isolate and report to their nearest health facility or call National helpline number (1075)/ State Helpline Number.

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