Guwahati: After multiple warnings of “reciprocal action” against the UK over the country’s rigid vaccine travel norms, New Delhi on Friday made it mandatory for UK passengers to undergo a 10-day quarantine irrespective of their vaccination status.
The new travel guidelines will come into effect from October 4 and will be applicable to all UK nationals arriving from the UK.
WHAT DOES THE NEW GUIDELINE SAY?
From October 4, all UK nationals arriving in India from the UK, irrespective of their vaccination status, will have to undertake the following measures:
- Pre-departure Covid-19 RT-PRC test within 72 hours before travel
- Covid-19 RT-PCR test on arrival at airport
- Covid-19 RT-PCR test on Day 8 after arrival
- Mandatory quarantine at home or in the destination address for 10 days after arrival in India
The home ministry and civil aviation ministry will be taking steps to implement the new measures.
WHAT IS THE TRAVEL ROW ABOUT?
The United Kingdom announced changes in its travel and quarantine rules in last week of September. The UK’s fresh international travel norms essentially considered fully vaccinated Indians as “unvaccinated” and made it mandatory for them to quarantine for 10 days on arrival in the country.
India was left out of the 18 countries on an approved vaccinations list, requiring Indians to follow rules set out for “non-vaccinated” travellers.
What this means is that despite Covishield now being recognised within the UK’s eligible vaccine formulations, it would not offer any advantage to Covishield-vaccinated Indian travellers planning a UK visit.
Travellers who are not fully vaccinated, or vaccinated in a country such as India currently not on the UK government’s recognised list, must take a pre-departure test. After arrival in the UK, they will need to self-isolate for 10 days. Travellers can also choose to shorten their home quarantine to around 5 days under the ‘Test to Release’ service.
What did the UK say over vaccine row?
Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India, said on September 22, “We’re clear Covishield is not a problem. The UK is open to travel and we’re already seeing a lot of people going from India to the UK, be it tourists, business people or students. Over 62,500 student visas have been issued in the year ending June 2021, which is an increase of almost 30% as compared to the previous year. We want to make the process of travelling as easy as possible.”
“We have been having detailed technical discussions regarding certification, with the builders of the CoWIN app and the NHS app, about both apps. They’re happening at a rapid pace, to ensure that both countries mutually recognise the vaccine certificates issued by each other,” the commissioner added.
The British High Commissioner spokesperson in New Delhi said, “The UK is continuing to work on expanding the policy to countries and territories across the globe in a phased approach. We are continuing to engage with the Government of India on technical cooperation to expand UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India.”
“The UK is open to travel and we’re already seeing a lot of people going from India to the UK, be it tourists, business people or students. Over 62,500 student visas have been issued in the year ending June 2021, which is an increase of almost 30% as compared to the previous year. We want to make the process of travelling as easy as possible,” the spokesperson added.
According to the UK, decisions on vaccine recognition are made by ministers, taking into account public health factors.
“We’re looking at expanding the role that vaccination can play more widely for those who have been fully vaccinated elsewhere to enter the UK,” UK authorities said.
“The UK has kept visa rules under constant review throughout the pandemic to keep borders open whilst gradually and safely restarting travel. We will continue to review the scientific evidence on other vaccines and will keep the health measures under regular review,” they added.