Omicron: From December 20, pre-booking RT-PCR tests mandatory for arrivals from ‘at-risk’ countries
The ministry of civil aviation announced on Tuesday that in view of rising cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, passengers arriving from ‘at-risk’ countries at six major airports will be, from December 20, required to mandatorily pre-book their RT-PCR tests.
“Air Suvidha portal would be modified to allow the passengers to mandatorily pre-book the RT-PCR test if they are coming from the countries ‘AT-RISK’ or have visited such countries in the last 14 days. Link to the concerned airport website would be provided in Air Suvidha platform which would be displayed to passengers while filling up the self-declaration form (SDF),” an office memorandum issued by the Jyotiraditya Scindia-headed ministry noted, according to news agency ANI.
The document further stated that the mandatory RT-PCR pre-booking will come into effect from 11:59pm on December 19. “In the first phase, the system may be implemented in six metro cities, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad,” it mentioned.
The ministry also directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue an advisory to all airlines to check their passengers’ pre-booking of the Covid-19 test before they board the flight. “If a passenger is having difficulty in pre-booking, they may not be denied boarding. However, the airline would be responsible to identify and accompany such passengers to the registration counter at the airport for testing,” it said.
India’s ‘at-risk’ list for Omicron currently comprises a dozen countries, including the United Kingdom. The other nations which are present on the list are South Africa, Botswana, Brazil, China, Ghana, Hong Kong, Israel, Mauritius, New Zealand, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
The new travel rules for Omicron came into effect from December 1. The emergence of the variant also led to a further delay in the resumption of regular international commercial flights, which have been under suspension since March last year. These were scheduled to resume from December 15 but the ban has now been extended till at least January 31 next year.