Centre asks Maharashtra to modify quarantine guidelines

Published on Dec 01, 2021 03:57 PM IST

The Maharashtra government issued stringent guidelines in the wake of omicron variant. The Union health ministry has asked the state government to align its order with Centre's guidelines. 

Passengers wearing protective face masks leave after arriving at Mumbai International Airport.(Reuters Photo)
Passengers wearing protective face masks leave after arriving at Mumbai International Airport.(Reuters Photo)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Union health ministry on Wednesday sent a letter to the Maharashtra government, urging it to align the orders given in the wake of the new coronavirus variant omicron with Centre's guidelines. The letter, signed by Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, calls for uniform implementation of guidelines across all the states and union territories.

The Centre’s letter has identified four points from Maharashtra government’s guidelines, which were issued on November 30. These are:

• Mandatory RT-PCR testing of all international travellers at the Mumbai airport, irrespective of country of origin.

• Mandatory 14-day home quarantine for all international passengers, despite being tested RT-PCR negative upon arrival

• Mandatory RT-PCR test for passengers planning to undertake connecting flights after disembarking at Mumbai and further travel subject to a negative RT-PCR result

• Requirement of negative RT-PCR test 48 hours prior to date of journey, for domestic passengers travelling from other states to Maharashtra

In the letter sent to Maharashtra’s additional chief secretary, Bhushan advised that such modified orders of the state government are given wide publicity to obviate any inconvenience to travellers.

Unlike Maharashtra, the guidelines issued by the Centre are meant only for 'at-risk' countries.

The Maharashtra government had announced these guidelines on Tuesday, and said they will come into effect immediately in order to restrict the transmission of the said virus variant into the state.

The order copy read, "The restrictions imposed by the Government of India guidelines dated November 28, 2021 as well as future restrictions, if any, shall act as minimum restrictions to be imposed."

But on Wednesday, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that a window of two days shall be granted to all passengers from ‘at-risk’ countries, since many fliers will have already finalised their plans of travel, may be on the move, or might even be airborne, and unaware of these guidelines. These revised guidelines will now come into effect from December 2, at 11.59pm.

The BMC has also directed the Mumbai airport operators to communicate to all domestic airlines not to allow any passengers landing in Mumbai, to board flight without negative RT-PCR report taken within 72 hours of travel.

It said that testing may be allowed at the airport on arrival only in exceptional cases.

Apart from the above-mentioned points, the Maharashtra government has also asked DCP immigration and Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to draft a proforma of declaration for all arriving passengers on international flights to declare details of the countries visited in the last 15 days. The authorities at Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has been asked to share the proformas with all airlines and the information regarding travel in the last 15 days will be cross-checked by immigration on arrival. Incorrect information furnished by the passengers will lead to action under relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the state government said in its order.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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