As international travel opens up in a phased manner, governments have been setting guidelines and updating them as the current situation demands. In India too, the Ministry of Home Affairs has laid out Standard Operating Protocol (SOPs) for international travellers. Passengers travelling under the Vande Bharat schemes need to register their details before boarding the flight.
Below is the list of SOPs that have been issued recently for those going to India –
- Individuals who desire to travel to India under the Vande Bharat schemes have to first register themselves with the Indian Missions in the country where they are stranded in. Along with this, details like name, address, number, and the RT-PCR test results also need to be mentioned. These details will then be shared by the MEA with the respective State or Union Territory beforehand.
- This kind of registration might not be required on flights operating under the air transport bubbles.
- The individuals will travel to India by non-scheduled commercial flights. These will be allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA). The ships on the other hand will be allowed by the Department of Military Affairs (DMA)/Ministry of Shipping (MOS).
- Priority will be given to individuals in distress, including migrant workers who have been laid off, short term visa holders who face expiry of visas, pregnant women, and those required to return to India due to the death of a family member, and students.
- Travellers have to bear the cost of travel. This will be determined by the carrier.
- MEA/MOCA will assign State/UT wise nodal officers. They will work for the Vande Bharat flights as well as for the flights operated under the air bubble arrangement.
- MEA and MOCA will display the day, place, and time of arrival two days before the flight’s departure.
- Travellers will have to sign an undertaking that they are travelling at their own risk.
- The staff and the passengers need to wear masks at all times and maintain respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene.
Below is the list of SOPs for those going out of India –
- MOCA will display on its website those individuals that are eligible to travel out of India.
- These individuals will apply to MoCA or to an agency assigned by MoCA for this purpose, along with necessary details like place of departure and arrival.
- These passengers will be on the non-scheduled commercial flights, as allowed by the MoCA. Indian seafarers and crew who want to accept contracts to serve on vessels abroad, can travel on the non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by MOCA. They can also travel on the flights arranged by their employers after clearance by the Ministry of Shipping.
- Before the tickets are confirmed, the airline will make sure that the destination country is allowing the entry of such an individual. If there are any conditions imposed by the destination country, the travellers will have to accordingly follow them.
- The cost of these flights will be borne by the travellers themselves.
- When passengers are boarding the flight, they will have to be thermal screened as per health protocols. Only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board the flight.
- Safety precautions like social distancing and wearing a mask need to be followed by the crew as well as passengers.
As things start to normalise, the SOPs might have new revisions. However, safety measures put in place need to be followed at all times.