What Are the Changes Made To Travelling and Airports Due To COVID-19?
Tourists and others around the world have been facing a lot of trouble when travelling, with major restrictions being implemented to almost all countries because of the Coronavirus. Much like the rest of the world, India also put into effect a fair share of rules making it impossible for multiple entry visa holders and OCI cardholders to return to their country of origin, mid-pandemic, leaving them stuck in various parts of the globe.
Who were the worst affected when it came to the Coronavirus travel ban?
People who wanted to travel to countries they weren’t the nationals of found themselves in a bit of a conundrum. Overseas Citizens of India noticed the country sidelining them since they weren’t citizens of India. The same was felt by many people with multiple entry visas to various countries around the world.
Most were selecting this option to visit other countries while being nationals elsewhere which turned into a major inconvenience especially when they had family in one country but are nationals of another, for work or other reasons. Additionally, this is done to avoid the tedious visa process whenever they had to travel, especially if they did this often.
How did India handle the COVID 19 lockdown when it came to people stranded abroad?
During the lockdown, airports around the world found themselves practically shut down. One article stated that airports were only running on 10% with commercial flights or not running at all.
However, with the world under lock and key, people were still stranded abroad and there was nothing they could do to get back home.
Countries were coordinating with each on getting their people back home. At the beginning of April, the Indian Government released a statement saying that visa-free travel privileges of foreign nationals and OCI cardholders were temporarily suspended because of the newly implemented international travel restrictions. Many foreign nationals had ageing parents or minors children in India and found themself in a fix, quite upset with the Indian Government.
The Government of India seemed to be prioritising Indian citizens over all others, and people not in this category weren’t being given the same priority. By May, the Government began slacking on many international travel restrictions, allowing the entry of OCI cardholders.
Did the Government create a priority system when dealing with people entering during the pandemic?
International travel turned into a touchy subject since it felt like the Government was implementing rules as and when they felt right, with the Indian Government unsure how to react to the information coming in.
To bring people stranded in other countries home, The Ministry of Civil Aviation launched multiple none scheduled flights. Since international travel had come to a halt, the only way to move from one country to another was through these flights. People using these fights to get home were organized according to a priority system created by the Government, where cases in distress or exceptions to the rule were given the firstpreference.
Workers and migrant labourers, along with people laid off from their jobs were allowed to get on, before others. Additionally, people holding short term visas were sent back to their countries of origin as soon as possible before the expiration of their visas. Finally, people suffering from medical emergencies, pregnant women, sick, old, and elderly were allowed to board the flights on a priority basis.