Updated: May 14, 2021 6:03:01 pm
With the Maharashtra government extending the restrictions that it had imposed earlier until June 1, the government has also tightened the rules for travel to Maharashtra from all other states. Until now, those travelling to Maharashtra from specific states, identified as ‘Sensitive Areas’, required to hold an RT-PCR negative test.
From Friday, a negative RT-PCR test result obtained within 48 hours before the time of the entry into the state, has been made mandatory for all entrants to the state. However, considering the delay being experienced in getting RT-PCR test results, rail and air travellers are being allowed to deboard at their destinations in Maharashtra and tested using RT-PCR or antigen methods upon arrival.
There is a lack of clarity for those travelling by road as the state does not grant one-way e-Passes for those travelling from other states to Maharashtra. Such individuals will have to apply with local authorities in respective states for interstate travel permission to Maharashtra and comply with the ePass rules in the home state.
What are new interstate travel directives by Maharashtra govt?
As per the order issued by State Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, any person entering the state of Maharashtra by any mode of transport will have to carry a negative RT-PCR report. The test report will have to be issued within 48 hours before the time of entry into Maharashtra.
The restrictions imposed on people arriving from ‘sensitive origins’ have now been extended to everyone arriving in Maharashtra from other parts of India.
In case of cargo carriers, only two persons will be allowed in the vehicle. If the carriers are originating from outside Maharashtra, they will be allowed with a negative RT-PCR test report issued within 48 hours before the time of entry into the state and will be valid for seven days, the order said.
Practically, however, passengers who are arriving in Maharashtra by air, rail or road without an RT-PCR test have to go through varying processes.
Airlines may allow passengers to board for an airport in Maharashtra even if they do not have an RT-PCR test if they agree to get tested upon arrival. For such passengers, airport authorities have arranged for swab collection centres where they can submit their throat-nasal swabs after payment.
For example, at Pune Airport, those passengers who do not have a negative RT-PCR test are ferried to a sample collection booth set up at the arrival area and a sample is collected. “Contact details and address of the passenger is collected at this time. Once the test results arrive, names and contact details of the passengers who have tested positive are shared with municipal authorities who then proceed with the established protocol,” said an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official at Pune.
Officials of Indian Railways said that they deal with incoming passengers in accordance with the advisories issued by the state government pertaining to the passengers coming from ‘Sensitive Locations’.
As per the advisory, passengers coming to Maharashtra must carry a negative RT-PCR test result. However, if they fail to carry it, they will be checked at the arrival station.
“As, despite all efforts by Railways, some passengers may not carry negative RT-PCR tests, to the extent possible, DMA and railway authorities may set up Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) facility at the station, either using railways, state government or private labs. If it is not feasible or before it becomes operational, local DMA, in consultation with the railway officials should decide elaborate checking for the passengers without negative RT-PCR test. However, such passengers should be let go only after reasonable confirmation of them being non-infected,” said the government advisory issued last month about long-distance trains.
The police manning the entry points to Maharashtra only check for the ePass to allow a vehicle entry into the state. At present, Maharashtra ePass issuance website only issues emergency passes for those staying in Maharashtra if they need to travel to another state (and come back). It does not provide passes to individuals who are presently located outside the state and want to travel to Maharashtra.
An official with Nanded Police – who man checkpoints at the Maharashtra-Telangana border – said that they only check if the vehicle has a valid ePass to enter the state.
“The authorities in the neighbouring state must ensure that the requisite medical documents such as Covid test results and death certificates are attached by the applicant while seeking the ePass,” said the police officer.
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