Friday, April 23, 2021

Nine and counting: UAE, Singapore shut out fliers from India

 New Delhi: At least nine jurisdictions — the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, France, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Oman — have imposed fresh restrictions on travel to and from India on account of the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Experts watching the sector closely said India currently poses the “biggest risk” of exporting new variants of the coronavirus to countries around the world, and that they expected more borders to be closed for travel from India.

As of Thursday morning, India had 22,91,428 active cases of coronavirus infection, an increase of 1,33,890 cases over the previous day, according to government figures.

The UAE on Thursday became the latest country to close its borders for travellers from India, after Singapore imposed a travel ban and Australia announced it will reduce the number of its citizens who would be able to return from India and other red-zone countries.

According to airline sources, UAE authorities on Thursday banned all flights from India for a period of 10 days from Sunday. The suspension is subject to a review after 10 days.

In a travel advisory, Dubai-based airline Emirates said: “Effective 24 April 2021 Saturday, 2359 local time Dubai and for the next 10 days, Emirates flights from India to the UAE will be suspended. Furthermore, passengers who have transited through India in the last 14 days will not be accepted to travel from any other point to the UAE.”

Other airlines based in the UAE, such as Etihad, FlyDubai, and Air Arabia, are also learnt to have cancelled their flights from India.

Indian carrier Air India Express said: “General Authority of Civil Aviation UAE has suspended all inbound passenger movement to the UAE from India (excluding UAE nationals)… Passengers booked to fly with us during this period will be able to reschedule their tickets once the restrictions are lifted.”

Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced that with effect from 11.59 pm local time on Friday, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with travel history, including transit, to India in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Singapore, or to transit through the country.

Australia too, has tightened restrictions on the arrival of its citizens from India. “We’re in the middle of a global pandemic that is raging. And Australia has been successful throughout this pandemic…to have very effective border arrangements,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, Reuters reported. “There will continue to be the opportunity for those to return from places like India but in very controlled circumstances.”

Earlier this week, countries including Oman and France imposed additional restrictions on travel from India. While Oman banned indefinitely the entry of travellers who are not Omani citizens or healthcare workers, from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh effective Saturday, France put India on the list of countries, travellers from where need to undergo mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival.

The UK has put India on its “red-list” of countries, effectively banning non-citizens from entering its borders, and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an advisory asking people, even those who are fully vaccinated, to not travel to India.

23/04/21 Pranav Mukul/Indian Express

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