New Delhi, Dec 21 : All flights between the United Kingdom and India will remain suspended from Wednesday to December 31, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Monday due to the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus in that country.
Additionally, he said passengers arriving from the UK via flights through midnight Tuesday would be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at airports “as a plentiful precautionary measure.”
A number of countries including Canada, Turkey, Belgium, Italy and Israel have banned flights from the UK as the UK government warns the potent new strain of the virus is “out of control” and has imposed a new strict lock on the home. of Sunday.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter that passengers tested positive for COVID would be sent to institutional quarantine put in place by states or Union Territories (UT).
“Those found negative should be advised to self-isolate at home for 7 days and will be medically monitored by the States / UT,” Puri added.
Until now, the rules have stated that if an international passenger had a negative COVID certificate from a test performed 72 hours before travel, he or she did not need to be tested again for COVID-19 upon arrival. at Indian airport.
Earlier today, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to Union Civil Aviation Minister Pradeep Singh Kharola, recommending a temporary suspension of all flights from the Kingdom. United to India until December 31.
“As you know, India has seen a steady decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases for more than two and a half months now accompanied by a drop in the number of deaths,” Bhushan said.
“In this scenario, any interjection of a SARS-CoV-2 variant virus by passengers with a travel history could pose a critical risk to the management of the pandemic in India,” he added.
Bhushan recommended mandatory COVID-19 testing at airports for passengers arriving from the UK, adding that state governments should create separate counters at airports to make the whole process easier.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation tweeted on Monday: “In view of the situation in the UK, the Indian government has decided that all flights from the UK to India will be suspended until December 31 2020 (23.59 hours). ”
This suspension will begin after 11:59 p.m. on December 22, and therefore flights from India to the UK will also be temporarily suspended above said period, he added.
“As a plentiful precautionary measure, passengers arriving from the UK on all transit flights (flights that took off or flights arriving in India by December 22 at 11:59 p.m.) should be subjected to an RT-PCR test. compulsory on arrival at the airports concerned. , “he mentioned.
All scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, special international passenger flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat mission since May and under bilateral air bubble agreements since July.
India has concluded air bubble deals with more than 22 countries, including the UK. Under an air bubble agreement between two nations, airlines of the two countries can operate special flights between their territories with certain restrictions.
Nishant Pitti, co-founder and CEO of EaseMyTrip.com, said the government’s decision to suspend flights to and from the UK until the end of the year would have a negligible impact on traffic touristic.
“Due to the current COVID-19 environment and quarantine and off-season rules, tourism to the UK had by no means resumed. We had only anticipated an increase in international tourism anyway. in the summer of 2021 with a normalization of winter 2021 ”, he declared.