After flak, Maharashtra revises air travel rules in wake of Omicron

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Following criticism, Maharashtra has revised the travel restrictions it had imposed two days ago in the wake of the detection of the Omicron-19 variant. Now, international travellers coming from or having travel history in the last 15 days from the Omicron-specific three ‘high risk- countries’ will have to undergo a mandatory seven-day institutional quarantine. Also, fully vaccinated domestic travellers can fly without RT-PCR negative report.

On Thursday, State Chief Secretary Debashish Chakraborty, acting on the request of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner IS Chahal, relaxed some of the earlier imposed travel restrictions for international and domestic passengers in the state.

According to the new rules, the Maharashtra government has made institutional quarantine of seven days compulsory for all international travelers coming from the three ‘high-risk’ countries — South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. All these ‘high-risk’ air passengers have to undergo RT-PCR test immediately after arrival and have to remain institutional quarantined until their second RT-PCR test is conducted on the seventh day. If the report comes positive, they would be shifted to a hospital. While passengers with negative test reports would be home quarantined for seven days.

However, this rule doesn’t align with the central government’s directive—as it mandates institutional quarantine only for Covid-19 positive diagnosed patients after their RT-PCR test at the airport.

Providing further relaxation to domestic travellers, the state government revoked their earlier imposed rule mandating a negative RT-PCR test report for domestic arrivals irrespective of their vaccination status. Now, fully vaccinated passengers will be allowed to travel to Maharashtra. But if a person is partially or unvaccianted, they have to carry a negative RT-PCR test report within 72 hours before boarding.

On Wednesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary Dr Pradeep Kumar Vyas that four specific guidelines passed by the state for international travellers are in “divergence with the SoPs & guidelines” issued by the Ministry.

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