Explained: Why countries are restricting travel to and from India

Written by Pranav Mukul
, Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: April 20, 2021 12:15:18 pm

With the number of Covid-19 cases in India on an upsurge, the international community is drawing the line when it comes to travel from here. Late Monday, the United Kingdom put India in its travel “red list” effective Friday. Shortly after that, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out an advisory saying “Travelers should avoid all travel to India”.

On Sunday, Hong Kong activated an “emergency circuit breaker” and banned passenger flights from India for 14 days starting April 20. New Zealand, too, suspended entry of travellers from India earlier this month.

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Why are countries restricting travel to and from India?

According to the UK, the decision to put India on the travel “red-list” was a result of detecting 103 cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India. On Sunday, Hong Kong imposed a two-week flight ban from India citing a similar reason pertaining to a mutated strain of coronavirus coming out of India.

In addition to this, jurisdictions are also expressing concern at the sheer number of Covid-19 cases emerging in India. The US CDC’s advisory came alongside it updating India’s Covid-19 assessment from Level 3 to Level 4, which is the highest level on its scale. As of Tuesday 8 am, India had 20,31,977 active coronavirus cases, an increase of 1,02,648 cases from the previous day.

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What does India being in the UK’s red-list mean?

As per the UK government norms, if you arrive in the UK from India before 4 am, Friday April 23 local time, you must self-isolate for 10 days in the place you’re staying and take a Covid-19 test on day two and day eight. However, from 4 am, Friday April 23, if you have been in India in the previous 10 days, you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British, Irish or third-country national with residency rights. Even in this case, you will need to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel.

What does the US CDC’s decision on travel to India mean?

On its travel notice page, the US CDC noted: “Because of the current situation in India even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to India”. “If you must travel to India, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travelers should wear a mask, stay six feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands,” it added.

Are travel options from the US and the UK currently available?

As of now, airlines such as Air India, Vistara, United, British Airways operate flights between India, and the US and the UK connecting stations like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, etc with airports such as London, New York – John F Kennedy and Newark.

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