The Indian High Commission in Canada has officially requested the federal government to drop its flight ban. Currently, travelers from India cannot fly directly to Canada since the country does not recognize testing in India. This has led travelers, including hundreds of students, to break their journey in third countries to get their test and fly onwards.
One week before Canada decides on whether to extend the flight ban for the third time, India has stepped up efforts to lift the restrictions. According to Hindustan Times, the Indian High Commission in Ottawa has sent a diplomatic communiqué to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to not extend the ban on passengers from India.
Canada first imposed a travel ban on India on 22nd April, when the nation was suffering a devastating second wave. Considering the volume of travel between the countries, thousands of passengers were left stranded in India. Since then, the ban has been extended three times, with the current mandate set to expire on 21st July.
However, High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria believes the situation has now recovered in India enough to merit lifting the restrictions. In a statement, he said,
“We have pointed out to the Canadian authorities that there is a huge demand and inconvenience to both Indian and Canadian passengers, particularly students. As well, we have pointed out the dramatic recovery in India and the drop in cases.”
Indeed, cases in India have fallen from a peak of 400,000 in May to just over 40,000 in July. Cities like Delhi have seen cases in the two-digit region, a rapid recovery from the spring. However, vaccination rates remain low, complicating efforts to ease restrictions.
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For travelers from India hoping to travel to Canada currently, the path is complex. The Canadian government has banned direct flights and stopped recognizing tests conducted in India. This means the only way to travel is to first go to a destination open to Indians, take a test there and wait for the results, and finally fly onward to Canada.
This means the minimum flight time to Canada from India is at least two days, and can be as long as a week. India’s high caseload means that only a few nations are accepting unvaccinated travelers, further complicating things. Just this week, Serbia enforced a 7-day quarantine on passengers from India, leaving scores of passengers hoping to fly to Canada in disarray.
This means the available options from India are down to Ethiopia, Mexico, Egypt, and a few more countries currently open. However, these restrictions are onerous, and with many in India fully vaccinated, raising doubts on how effective they are.
It’s anyone’s guess if India’s push to have restrictions lifted will work. Canada has been particular about its border controls, refusing to even open its doors to the neighboring US, which boasts impressively high vaccination rates. For now, thousands of travelers will be waiting in India to know the Canadian government’s decision on whether to drop or extend the ban.
What do you think about Canada’s travel ban from India? Should it continue? Let us know in the comments.