India Tightens Quarantine Rules and Reviews International Flight Opening

As the Omicron variant raises alarm bells across the globe, India is moving to tighten restrictions. The country has updated its list of high-risk countries and will be scrutinizing passengers arriving from these countries with additional testing and quarantines. However, India is yet to ban travel from any country.

Air India (Celebrating India Livery) Boeing 777-337(ER) VT-ALN
India is yet to ban any countries due to the new variant but could impose quarantines and additional testing. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Rachet up

As the Omicron variant crops up in countries across the globe, India is moving to impose stricter conditions on incoming travelers. On November 26th, the government added more countries to its high-risk list, calling for strict entry conditions and fewer flights from December 15th onwards, once regular flights were set to resume.

However, in the absence of central government rules or a formal travel ban, each state has been taking its own action. It’s important to check the guidelines of each city before your arrival.

Delhi and Mumbai will require all passengers from high-risk countries to take a test at the airport in addition to the pre-departure test. Those coming from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Hong Kong will have to wait for their results, while those from other countries can quarantine at home until a negative result. Mumbai will also require home quarantine.

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Travelers from much of the world will be subject to the new rules. Photo: Getty Images

The high-risk list includes: All European countries (including the UK), South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, Mauritius, China, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.

Under the current rules, passengers from these countries whose vaccination certificate is not recognized from India will have to test on arrival and self-quarantine for seven days before another test. However, vaccinated travelers only need a pre-departure COVID test and proof of vaccination to enter with no quarantine.

Resumption delayed

Given the dangers of Omicron, Prime Minister Modi has also requested a review of India’s decision to reopen scheduled international flights. The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) announced that normal flights would resume from December 15th on Friday.

However, over the weekend, the threat of the Omicron variant has increased greatly, and India could need to scale back flights. The “travel bubble” system would give the government more control over scheduled than under regular flights, which would likely see several airlines resume flights to India and require individual travel bans.

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India may delay the reopening of regular flights until more is known about the threat of Omicron. Photo: Bill Larkins via Wikimedia Commons

For now, no decisions have been made on if the reopening will be delayed or flight allowances cut down. The coming days will see the government make a decision based on scientific evidence.

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For now, the world is closely watching if the Omicron variant will wipe away some or all of the gains from vaccinations. The variant’s genetic make-up means it could escape immunity from vaccines and natural infection and possibly spread faster than the Delta variant. To protect from this, we could see a reversal of many countrys’ border opening. For now, the entire industry is waiting with bated breath.

What do you think about India’s tightening of restrictions? Let us know in the comments!