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As Covid-19 vaccine programs become more widespread across the globe, countries have begun easing travel restrictions on passengers coming in from outside, subject to certain conditions. In the latest developments, Spain and the UAE have allowed certain categories of travelers from India to enter their jurisdictions.
What has the UAE done?
The UAE will lift the ban on entry of passengers from India and five other countries from August 5 onwards. However, this relaxation will be valid only for passengers who have a valid residency visa and are fully vaccinated with the final dose being taken at least 14 days prior to travel. In addition, the UAE has also lifted restrictions on flyers transiting to other destinations. However, with pending formalities and SOPs for the new set of travelers, airlines are expecting a delay in the implementation of the new rules.
What is the significance of this?
With the UAE opening up the gates for transiting passengers, a huge relief is expected for those traveling to destinations such as the US or the UK, especially students who will be commencing the fall semester at universities there. Lack of flights to the US and Europe from the UAE for Indian passengers and a restriction by the US on a number of flights caused inconvenience to students traveling there.
What has Spain done?
Spain has added India to the list of countries from where tourists will be allowed given that they have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel. Authorities in Spain have said that only those travelers will be allowed who have been inoculated with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the European Medicines Agency. While this includes Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, it does not include Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin yet.
What is the update on other international destinations?
While regular international scheduled flights have been banned by the Indian government, flights are operating under the air bubble arrangements with a number of countries. Notably, on account of the second surge of Covid-19 in India during April, several countries had restricted their borders for entry of travelers from India.
The US in May, for example, had issued a ban for Indian travelers except for their own citizens. However, it later relaxed travel for student visa holders.
Last month, Germany also reclassified India to “high (Covid) incidence areas” — down from the higher travel restriction level of “virus variant areas”. With this, it had removed the entry ban for travelers from India.