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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Explained: Why Mumbai may soon allow vaccinated flyers without Covid-19 negative certificates

Several states in India are allowing vaccinated travellers into their respective jurisdictions without a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test certificate. Are there central guidelines on this? What does this mean for the aviation industry?

Written by Pranav Mukul , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 15, 2021 7:58:46 am
Airline officials have indicated that the recovery of the aviation industry will depend, among other factors, on the vaccination of the population. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal, File)

Fully vaccinated domestic passengers arriving in Mumbai may soon be exempted from the mandatory RT-PCR certificate requirement, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai said Tuesday. The civic body has written to the Maharashtra government, requesting the exemption.

The decision follows several other states, including Rajasthan, Punjab and Odisha, allowing inoculated passengers to arrive into their respective jurisdictions without a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test certificate.

Why is Mumbai allowing vaccinated passengers to enter without RT-PCR certificate?

In a letter dated July 13, BMC chief I S Chahal wrote: “Govt of Maharashtra as well as Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai have imposed condition with regards to carrying negative RT-PCR test report while arriving in the city. The said guidelines are being followed and compliance accordingly is ensured at Mumbai Airport. There are many passengers who are taking up journey to Delhi or other business places in the morning and they are returning back on the same day in the evening or next day morning, in such case conducting the RT PCR test and getting the report becomes impossible.

“In view of above, the domestic passengers who are fully vaccinated may be exempted from carrying negative RT PCR test report while arriving in the City of Mumbai,” he said.

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Which other states are allowing vaccinated passengers to arrive without a test report?

The states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha and the Union Territory of Chandigarh have allowed vaccinated travellers to be exempt from the RT-PCR certificate requirement.

However, in the case of Rajasthan, only the passengers in possession of final vaccination certificate (with two doses), and have completed 28 days after the second dose, will be exempt from the RT-PCR requirement.

In the case of Punjab, passengers need to be in possession of a vaccination certificate of at least one dose, which is over two weeks old. Chandigarh has a requirement similar to Punjab.

For Odisha and Nagaland, passengers need a final vaccination certificate (with two doses) to be exempt from the RT-PCR requirement.

In the case of Meghalaya, passengers arriving from any state except Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka and Kerala shall be exempt from RT-PCR requirement if in possession of valid final certificate of vaccination.

Is there a central set of guidelines for vaccinated travellers?

The central government is learnt to be working on issuing a set of guidelines for vaccinated passengers to be exempt from RT-PCR requirements, but government officials have said the decision to exempt passengers from these regulations ultimately lies with the respective state governments.

What does this mean for domestic aviation industry?

Airline officials have often indicated that the recovery of the industry will depend, among other factors, on the vaccination of the population.

In the IndiGo earnings call held on June 7, its CEO Ronojoy Dutta said: “We are hopeful that with the reducing trend in Covid cases and the increased pace of vaccination, passenger confidence and airline traffic will gain further momentum by early July”.

On June 12, the number of daily passengers travelling on domestic flights exceeded the 1 lakh-mark for the first time since May, indicating a gradual uptick in passenger numbers.

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