India has deferred the resumption of international flights until February 2022, in the wake of rising concerns over the new Covid-19 variant, confirmed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday.
This comes only days after the Centre announced it would not restart international flights from December 15.
“The situation is being watched closely… and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course.” the DGCA announced.
The country, however, has agreed to maintain its 32 travel bubbles operational.
The UAE, France, the UK, and the U.S. are among the countries that can still travel to India through its travel lanes.
In the past, travelers could get around the restrictions by connecting through a nation where they were allowed to fly. That has become more difficult now.
Rising COVID-19 infections and the risk posed by the new variant have pushed authorities from various states to reintroduce a series of entry restrictions for foreign arrivals.
In Maharashtra, for instance, all international travelers must provide their trip history for the previous 14 days before boarding a flight to any of the state’s cities.
Passengers traveling from at-risk countries will be attended at separate counters. Institutional quarantine and RT-PCR tests are mandatory.
However, they will be permitted to board connecting flights if they test negative for COVID-19.
Karnataka’s authorities have said that all international travelers from ‘at-risk’ countries must take a mandatory RT-PCR test and self-isolate for seven days.
The Delhi government has instructed all passengers coming from at-risk countries to observe a 7-day mandatory self-isolation. These travelers must also provide a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in the state.
Other states such as Jammu, Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh have taken similar approaches.
The government is following the ‘3T’ formula of testing, tracking, and treatment, according to Rajesh Tope, the state’s public Health Minister.
“We are not thinking about any lockdown in the state as of now,” he said.
“We shall keep a close tab on the situation and take a call on curbs following the guidance by the center, the state task force and the chief minister.”