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Explained: Why the US has banned travel from India, and its implications

The ban on travel to the US is effective 12.01 am eastern daylight time on May 4. However, it does not apply to persons who are on board a flight scheduled to arrive in the US that departed prior to the give cut-off time.

Written by Pranav Mukul , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: May 11, 2021 8:44:00 am
Travelers at an airport in the US. (The New York Times: Erin Schaff)

The US government early Saturday announced a ban on entry of non-citizens or non-residents if they have been to India in the past 14 days on account of rising coronavirus cases. This will be effective 12.01 am eastern daylight time on May 4. According to health ministry data, as of Saturday morning, there were 32,68,710 active Covid-19 cases in India, an increase of 98,482 over the previous day.

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Why has the US announced suspension of flights from India?

In a statement, the White House said that the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised, based on work by public health and scientific experts, that the variants of coronavirus that are prevalent in India “have characteristics of concern, which may make them more easily transmitted and have the potential for reduced protection afforded by some vaccines”.

“After reviewing the public health situation within the Republic of India, CDC has concluded that proactive measures are required to protect the Nation’s public health from travelers entering the United States from that jurisdiction,” the White House added.

When is the ban effective?

The ban on travel to the US is effective 12.01 am eastern daylight time on May 4. However, it does not apply to persons who are on board a flight scheduled to arrive in the US that departed prior to the give cut-off time. Currently, Air India and United Airlines are operating flights between India and the US. Air India is expected to mount additional flights to deal with the outbound traffic.

What are the exemptions to the travel ban?

The ban will not be applicable for a permanent resident of the US, a non-citizen national of the US, a non-citizen who is the spouse of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, etc. Furthermore, the US State Department said that certain categories of students, academics, journalists and individuals have been exempted from the travel ban. Students seeking to commence studies in the fall, academics, journalists and individuals who provide critical infrastructure support in countries affected by a geographic Covid-19 restriction may qualify for the exception, the department said.

Where does this leave India’s international travel connections?

Over a dozen jurisdictions across the world have now banned travellers from entering their borders because of the Covid-19 situation here. In addition to the US, major countries like the UK, Canada, Australia, Oman, the UAE, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, New Zealand, etc have prohibited travelers from India. Australia and New Zealand have even prohibited their own citizens from entering their borders.

However, experts believe that with the US taking a serious view on travel from India, several other countries are expected to tighten their borders.

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