Breaking news as the White House is set to officially announce a ban on travel to the US from India as COVID-19 continues to spread through the country. White House Staff, including White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, have announced that the plan will go into effect from May 4th and apply to a vast majority of non-US citizens.
US to ban travel from India
President Joe Biden’s administration will put in place a policy barring travel from India to the US by foreign nationals. The ban will apply to those who have physically been in India within the previous 14 days and is likely to take a similar shape as Brazil, Europe, and South Africa bans, according to a report in Reuters.
In a statement reported in the New York Times, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated the following:
“The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high Covid-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India.”
The ban will not apply to US citizens or lawful permanent residents. Other exemptions include passengers who are humanitarian workers or those coming to the US under specific visas, like diplomatic ones.
The policy will go into effect from 12:01 AM Eastern Time on May 4th. Airlines may continue to operate flights to and from India, but from then on, non-US citizens will not be allowed to enter if they have been in India in the last 14 days.
What if I am scheduled to fly to or from India?
If you qualify under one of the exemptions, you will still need a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departing India. The CDC recommends Non-vaccinated passengers to quarantine and test negative again upon reentering the US. Vaccinated travelers are not recommended to quarantine.
Those who have current tickets and are affected by the ban, wait to see what your airline does. If an airline cancels your flight, you can petition for a refund. However, if you cancel your flight, airlines will usually issue travel vouchers unless you purchased a fully refundable ticket.
Expect longer hold times on calls and some uncertainty with airline schedules as the carriers work to figure out their next moves. The ban will mainly affect Air India and United, which fly nonstop between the US and India. Other airlines sell connecting itineraries.
There is also the potential for repatriation flights. There is heavy traffic between the US and India, and airlines are expected to seek to run repatriations to get people home. The repatriation flights will not be a way to bypass the travel restrictions.
Responding to the situation in India
India is currently in the midst of a tragic wave of COVID-19. The prevalence of mutations in the country combined with a large population and rapidly growing case counts is putting pressure on hospitals in the country.
Many other countries have already put in place a travel ban for Indian arrivals. In recent weeks, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, the UAE, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are among some of the countries that have introduced travel bans or restrictions in the last few days.
Countries and corporations around the world have started sending aid to India as the situation worsens. Recently, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa Cargo, and Qatar Airways are some of the airlines that have engaged in transporting humanitarian aid to India. The US has also pledged aid to the country.