After initially declining to ban travel from India, Dutch authorities have backtracked and canceled all flights between the countries. The reversal came after the country’s public health institute advised that a travel ban be introduced due to surging cases. The Netherlands is the latest country to impose travel restrictions on India following record-high cases and new variants.
Just four days after announcing that the Netherlands has no plans to restrict travel from India, the nation has backtracked. Starting from today, 26th April, at 14:00 GMT, travelers from India will no longer be able to enter the Netherlands or take transit flights. The announcement came last night after the cabinet received fresh advice from public health institute RIVM, according to Dutch News.
The decision is a stunning reversal from an even more surprising decision from the government. On Thursday, the Dutch government confirmed that its quarantine procedure and testing requirements would be enough to prevent imported cases from India. This came despite destinations like the UK, Hong Kong, the UAE, and others adding new restrictions.
Moreover, the government cited evidence from RIVM, dated 26th March, which said India did not pose a risk. However, many, including politicians, quickly pointed out that cases have risen from 60,000 to over 300,000 since the last week of March, increasing the risk dramatically. Despite this change, the government was silent on changing the rules. Until today.
However, there are some exceptions to the travel ban. KLM continues to offer seven flights per week from Delhi and Mumbai, but only a small segment of the population will be allowed to travel. This includes Dutch nationals, residents of other EU / Schengen countries transiting at Schiphol and a handful of others. Full details are on the KLM website.
In the span of under a week, Indians have seen their travel options severely limited. The Netherlands now joins the UK, France, Italy, and Germany as the European countries have banned travel from India. However, unlike the Netherlands, these countries have only tightened conditions of entry and not banned flights outright.
In addition to Europe, the decision to ban flights will have a ripple effect on connectivity into South America and Africa as well. KLM has strong networks in both regions, and India has eased the travel bubble rules to allow travelers from these two continents to connect through Europe. For now, Air France and Lufthansa are the only continental European airlines serving India.
India’s cases continue to shatter world records as the second wave shows little sign of slowing down soon. The country saw a record 354,500 cases yesterday along with 2,806 deaths, the highest in its history. In addition to the new cases, many countries have also noted a new variant spreading in India, known as B.1.617, which could be more dangerous, although investigations are still underway to determine the same.
Until India’s second wave subsidies, we will likely see more countries impose travel restrictions on India. Currently, only the US is the only major market that has not restricted travel from India. The bans are also likely here to stay for at least a few months as cases hopefully start to fall and the situation comes under control.
What do you think about the Netherlands’ sudden reversal? Let us know in the comments!