India imposes reciprocatory travel restrictions on UK nationals flying to India. Starting from October 4th, the guidelines enforce a mandatory 10-day quarantine for travelers from the UK. This decision comes amid the ongoing travel restrictions on Indian nationals by the British government.
The British government declared that in order to ease international travel to the UK, It will allow fully vaccinated travelers to skip quarantine. However, it only recognized vaccine programs of American, European, or British health authorities.
Vaccines of Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna administered under vaccination programmes in America, Europe or UK in particular. As per the regulations, people with double doses of the above mentioned vaccines will receive ‘vaccinated’ status. Many Indians administered with shots of Covishield and Covaxin will still acquire the status of ‘unvaccinated’ and will undergo self isolation for 10 days. The upcoming British regulations also kick starts from october 4, 2021.
Ironically, Covishield, the most sought after and widely used vaccine in India is from a UK-based company AstraZeneca manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. At the same time, several weeks of talks between the officials of both countries have not yielded significant improvement.
Earlier Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has condemned the British decision to not recognize Indian vaccine Covishield as ‘Discriminatory’. He also indicated the probability of the reciprocal regulations as Britain did not relax quarantine measures for India.
New restrictions mirror Britain’s own curbs
Conferring to the new arrangement, all UK nationals arriving in India irrespective of their vaccination status will have to undergo-
- RT-PCR tests within 72 hours before departure
- Similar tests on arrival at Indian airport
- RT-PCR test again on the 8th day since landing
- 10 day mandatory quarantine at home or destination after arrival
According to government sources, health and civil aviation ministries will work to implement these measures. This decision will also be applicable to people of Indian origin having citizenship of UK (PIOs and OCI- cardholders)
The UK responds to Indian government’s actions
Britain responded to India’s reciprocal restrictions. It says it is working on positive dialogue with the Indian government to relax travel curbs for Indians. The British government revealed it has no concern with the formulation of Covishield manufactured in Serum Institute but still has issues with India’s vaccine certificate.
Britain’s lack of trust in Indian vaccine certificates as well as its hesitancy in allowing restriction free mobility of Indians gave fuel to the existing tensions between both countries. Thus the new reciprocal rules are expected to change India’s amber status. It will put pressure on the UK to alter its unnecessary travel restrictions and facilitate travel between both nations.