India postpones tourist visas to stop virus spread

Published on : Thursday, March 12, 2020

On Wednesday, India hung up on all visas, except on couple of categories like diplomatic and employment, till April 15th in a bid to control the coronavirus spread, according to an official statement.


Also, the government “strongly advised” Indians to stay away from all non-essential abroad travels. The suspension will be effective from 1200 GMT on March 13th at the port of departure.


At a meeting of a group of ministers organized under the chairmanship of Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, the decision was taken.


“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure,” the statement said.


Visa-free travel facility was granted to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders are also kept in abeyance till April 15. Nationals of any foreign country who is keen to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission, the release said, emphasizing the fact that all incoming travelers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15th will be quarantined for 14 days at the max.


The government suggested the travelers coming from foreign countries including Indian nationals, to shun non-essential travel and informed them that they can be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days on their arrival in India.


“Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad. On their return, they can be subjected to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days,” it said.


International traffic via borders will be stopped to particular check posts with robust screening facilities.


These will be informed discretely by the ministry of home affairs, the release said.
Primarily, provision for testing for students/compassionate cases in Italy to be made and sample collection to be arranged in view of that.


Those with negative test results will be permitted to travel and will be quarantined on arrival in India for 14 days, the press release mentioned.


The second meeting of the group of ministers was attended among others by ministers Hardeep S Puri (Civil Aviation), S Jaishankar (External Affairs), Nityananda Rai (MoS Home), Mansukh Mandaviya (MoS Shipping) and Ashwini Kumar Choubey (MoS Health).


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