Thursday, 20 January 2022

New Rules by Gujarat government for foreign passengers due to Omicron variant

New Rules by Gujarat government for foreign passengers due to Omicron variant

Amid the concern over the new coronavirus Omicron variant, the Gujarat government has mandated RT-PCR testing for travelers landing at the airport from Europe, the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, and Hong Kong.

Yesterday, the government resumed scheduled international flights to and from India from December 15 after 20 months of coronavirus-induced suspension. However, the countries deemed 'at at risk' of Covid-19 by the Union Health Ministry will be allowed to operate 50% of their scheduled passenger flights.

The Health Ministry said the countries in Europe, including New Zealand, and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel, have been put in the 'at-risk category.

India's decision to restart scheduled international passenger flights has come when various countries such as the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Israel, France, and Italy have restricted air travel from southern Africa, where a new coronavirus variant has been reported.

Further, the Centre said that if a country has been identified in the 'at-risk category and does not have an air-bubble agreement with India, then a maximum "50% of bilateral capacity entitlements or 50% of pre-COVID operations of Indian or foreign carrier, whichever is higher", will be permitted.

Suppose a country wants to operate scheduled passenger flights to another nation. In that case, a bilateral air services agreement has to be negotiated to decide how many airlines, ports of entry, and total flights (or seats) weekly can be allowed between the two.

New Rules by Gujarat government for foreign passengers due to Omicron variant 1pixabay image

Read More: Maharashtra government issues new covid guidelines amid of new covid variant

The Aviation Ministry said if a country has been identified to be 'at risk' of COVID-19 but has an air bubble agreement with India, then "75% of pre-COVID scheduled international flight operations of Indian or foreign carrier, whichever is higher, or a minimum of seven frequencies per week subject to availability of entitlements under bilateral agreements will be permitted".

The countries not in the 'at-risk category will get "full capacity entitlements according to the bilateral air service agreements," the Aviation Ministry noted.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23. However, special passenger flights since July last year under air bubble arrangements with 31 countries.

Under an air bubble agreement between the two nations, airlines of both countries can operate special flights between their territories with certain restrictions.

India has air bubbles with Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, the USA, and Uzbekistan.

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