UAE, Australia, Oman ban travel from India
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australia and Oman on Thursday joined the list of countries that have imposed travel restrictions on India in the wake of a massive surge in coronavirus infections, either completely barring or restricting flights from the country.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the General Civil Aviation Authority of the UAE announced the temporary suspension of all flights from India and the entry of transit passengers for a period of 10 days from April 25. Cargo flights between the two sides were exempted from the ban.
People who transited through India in the past 14 days will also be barred from entering the UAE and the travel ban will be reviewed after 10 days, according to the announcement.
The ban will not apply to UAE nationals, diplomatic passport holders, official delegations, and “golden residency” visa holders, though they will be required to take further preventive measures such as a 10-day quarantine and a RT-PCR test at the airport.
Flights between Indian cities and Dubai have been among the busiest routes even during the pandemic as the UAE is home to more than three million Indians, one of the largest concentrations of expatriates in West Asia.
On Thursday, Singapore further tightened restrictions for travellers from India, mainly to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in its crowded workers’ dormitories. Officials acknowledged that the move would impact the construction and marine sectors, which employ a large number of people from India and other South Asian countries.
The UAE became the third country after the UK and Oman to bar the entry of Indian nationals even as the daily infections surged past the 300,000-mark. On Wednesday, Oman barred the entry of travellers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh from April 24.
The ban will also cover travellers who transited through any of the three South Asian countries over the past 14 days, Oman’s Supreme Committee announced.
The Australian government has decided to temporarily reduce the number of flights from India by 30% after registering a spike in incoming travellers testing positive for Covid-19. People coming from high-risk countries such as India will also have to test negative for Covid-19 at least 72 hours before boarding a flight to Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the reduction will apply to government-organised repatriation flights and commercial flights. The change will take effect “in the months ahead”, he said without giving details.
Authorities in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) said there would be changes to the schedule of repatriation flights from India to Howard Springs and the requirements for travellers. “All repatriation flights not yet booked but planned for the NT for May will now be deferred until June,” chief minister Michael Gunner was quoted as saying by ABC News.
“Anyone returning from India on these flights and all flights thereafter will be required to isolate for two weeks prior to departure,” he said.
The move follows the Howard Springs quarantine facility dealing with the highest number of Covid-19 cases since it began handling repatriation flights last year, with most cases recorded among arrivals from India.
Singapore on Thursday announced that all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with a history of travel to India within the last 14 days wouldn’t be allowed entry into the country from April 24. This includes travellers transiting through India and those who had obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore, officials said.
“We know that this major move will have an impact on our construction, marine and process sectors. And many local SMEs and contractors will be badly impacted,” Lawrence Wong, co-chair of Singapore’s Covid-19 multi-ministry task force, told a news conference.
Singapore’s health ministry had on Tuesday said Covid-19 border measures would be tightened for travellers from India, who will have to stay at home for an additional seven days after the mandatory 14-day stay at dedicated facilities.
The US, the UK and New Zealand have imposed fresh restrictions on travellers from India or issued advisories against travelling to India in the backdrop of a massive spike in coronavirus cases. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga have called off planned visits to India because of the Covid-19 situation.