The Centre has extended the temporary ban on flights to India from the United Kingdom until January 7, following which a “strictly regulated” resumption will take place. The current suspension, which took effect from December 23, is in place until December 31.
The resumption of flights will be a relief to passengers who may be currently stuck in the UK. Once inbound flights resume, people who may have to travel to the UK from India will also be able to do that.
Why has the government extended the ban on flights from the UK?
The original suspension was implemented to curb the spread of the mutated strain of the novel coronavirus, which was rapidly infecting people in the UK. In India, so far 20 people have been detected with this new variant of the virus. Additionally, the new strain has been found in at least 13 countries around the globe.
How will the flights resume post January 7?
In a tweet, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that the resumption post January 7 will take place in a “strictly regulated” manner, but the detailed guidelines are yet to be issued by the government.
Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to & from the UK till 7 January 2021.
Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) December 30, 2020
However, it is expected that everyone arriving in India from the UK will be mandatorily made to undergo RT-PCR testing. In addition to this, some states like Maharashtra had earlier mandated institutional quarantine for all passengers arriving from the UK between the time the flight was announced and was implemented.
Once the government issues the guidelines for resumption, individual states will likely issue their own standard operating procedures.
So should those who need to fly between the UK and India start planning?
A lot depends on how quickly the virus spreads across the globe and whether that would impact international flight operations from India. So far, other than the UK and India, the new viral strain has been found in France, Germany, Canada, Singapore, the Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, Belgium, Spain, and several others jurisdictions.
However, it is notable that flights between some of these places like Canada, France, Germany, etc. are continuing to operate.