India Restricts Flights Until May 31st

India has extended the suspension on international commercial flight operations till May 31, 2021. However, international passenger flights under air travel bubble arrangements will continue.

“In partial modification of circular dated 26-06-2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the above subject… regarding scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of 31st May, 2021,” the circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

The circular said that the restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA. Passenger air services were suspended on March 25, 2020 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19. Domestic flight services, however, resumed from May 25, 2020.

Meanwhile, the US has announced that starting May 4th, on the advice of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control,  COVID-19 experts, medical experts and national security advisors — travel restrictions will come into force for India,” Vice President Kmla Harris announced last week.

Harris, who was visiting Cincinnati, said, “There is no question that it (COVID surge in India) is a great tragedy, in terms of the loss of life, and as I have said before, and I will say again, we as a country have made a commitment to the people of India to support them.”

“And we’ve made already a commitment in terms of a dollar amount that will go to PPE (personal protective equipment) and a number of other things. But it is tragic. And, you know, my prayers go to the people on the suffering, the blatant suffering that is happening,” she added. President Joe Biden’s Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the restrictions were being imposed because “of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India.”

The restrictions cover South Africa, China, Iran, Brazil, Ireland, Britain and the 29 countries belonging to the common visa zone known as the Schengen Area. US citizens and legal residents and their immediate family members are exempt from the restrictions, as also are diplomats, but they are advised to follow precautions. They are asked to test themselves for COVID-19 between three and five days after arrival.

If those who are vaccinated test positive, they have to isolate themselves for seven days. Those who are not vaccinated are asked to self-isolate for seven days, regardless of the test results. At a news conference on Friday before the restriction was announced, White House Coronavirus Response Co-ordinator Jeffrey Zientsin said, “In terms of travel from India, we remain in very close contact with our foreign counterparts and are continuously monitoring the situation.”

“Our current inbound travel precautions and mandatory testing before travel — the quarantine for unvaccinated individuals and the retesting during that quarantine period — those are all in place for all international travel and have been effective,” he added.

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