Laid off workers, expiring visa holders, students, elderly to get first chance.
Faced with a growing demand from people stranded at home and abroad due to covid lockdown, India will now give priority to the distressed on hundreds of evacuation flights to and from over 50 nations.
As part of the Vande Bharat mission, its largest evacuation exercise, Indiaâ€™s national carrier Air India is running over 250 flights, including 14 to and from the US, to ferry its citizens home.
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a new Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for travel of Indian Nationals stranded abroad and for those stranded in India who wish to go back.
For travel of Indian Nationals stranded abroad, priority will be given to compelling cases in distress, including migrant workers and laborers who have been laid off, the ministry said.
Short term visa holders faced with expiry of visas, persons with medical emergency, pregnant women, elderly and those required to return to India due to death of family member, and students too would be given priority.
Such persons would have to register themselves with the Indian Missions in the country where they are stranded, along with necessary details as prescribed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Only asymptomatic persons would be allowed to travel to India and the cost of travel would have to be borne by the travelers.
Before boarding all travelers would have to give an undertaking that they would undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days â€“ self paid 7-day institutional quarantine, followed by 7-day isolation at home.
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For persons stranded in India who are desirous to travel abroad, would have to apply to the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) for travel on flights forr bringing back stranded Indian nationals from abroad. The cost of travel would have to be borne by the travelers.
Travel to destination countries would be allowed for those who are citizens of that country; who hold visa of at least one year duration of that country; and green card or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders.
In cases of medical emergency or death in the family, Indian nationals holding six month visa can also be allowed, the new SOP said.
Before the tickets of such persons are confirmed. MoCA will ensure that the destination country allows entry of such persons in that country.
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Indian seafarers, crew seeking to accept contracts to serve on vessels abroad, can also travel on the flights departing from India under the Vande Bharat Mission.
At the time of boarding the flight, all travelers will have to undergo thermal screening as per health protocol. Only asymptomatic travelers would be allowed to board the flight.
While on board the flight, required precautions such as wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene etc. would have to be observed by everyone on board, the SOP said.
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