Travel Alert | Sixteen Countries that Indians can Visit Right Now
In late March, when India went into coronavirus lockdown, the government suspended all international flight operations. Six months later, countries are cautiously opening up their borders to other nations with close geographic, economic or cultural ties to resuscitate the tourism industry, which has been severely impacted because of the pandemic. To that end, India initially entered into bilateral travel bubbles with a total of seven countries in August: the U.S.A., France, Germany, the U.K., Canada, the U.A.E., and Maldives. As of October 1, the list has been expanded to include nine other countries from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.
The following countries have been added: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Japan, Nigeria, Qatar, Kenya, Oman and Bhutan. However, all passengers must follow quarantine guidelines as mandated by authorities in their destination country. Quarantine regulations and other entry restrictions will likely vary from country to country.
The Director-General for Civil Aviation previously announced that as per the arrangement with the U.S.A, U.K., Canada and the U.A.E. governments, any Indian national with a valid visa will be allowed to visit these countries. The exclusion of Germany and France indicates that the two countries are imposing stricter entry restrictions for Indians, and not all non-essential visa holders will be permitted.
Moreover, to minimize the risk of Covid-19 transmission, in some cases, travellers must provide proof of having tested negative for Covid-19 on arrival, apart from undergoing mandatory quarantine or self-isolation in the destination country. For instance, passengers flying to the U.A.E. are required to produce a PCR negative test report for Covid-19, and fill out a health declaration form before departure and after arrival.
As per the air travel bubble agreement with Maldives, travellers might have to undergo a random Covid-19 PCR test, and must wear face masks at airports, during travel within Maldives and in enclosed public spaces. However, unlike the other countries on the list, Indians can still obtain a visa on arrival in the Maldives.
It is important to note that despite the bilateral air bubbles, all international travellers returning from abroad will have to undergo seven days of institutional quarantine, followed by seven days of home quarantine, after returning to India. The guidelines for international travellers published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on August 2, 2020 state that the seven days of institutional quarantine can be substituted by home quarantine in case of an emergency. International passengers arriving at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport at Mumbai can avoid institutional quarantine if they have taken a RT-PCR Covid-19 test and tested negative, as long as the test was conducted less than 96 hours before the journey.
The revised guidelines from the Ministry of Home Affairs dated August 22, 2020 state that those flying under air travel bubble agreements will not have to register themselves with the Indian Embassy before flying, as was previously required. However, stranded Indians who wish to fly back to India under the Vande Bharat repatriation effort will still need to register with the Indian Embassy before flying.
More information about India’s air travel bubbles can be found here.
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