India lifted quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated foreign travellers with effect from Monday as it seeks to revive tourism after closing its borders in March last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
All foreign arrivals will have to show a negative PCR test result taken up to 72 hours earlier, under new rules issued by the Health Ministry. Those with proof of vaccination will face no further restrictions.
Tourists who are not fully vaccinated will be tested on arrival and have to self-isolate for seven days, after which they will be tested again.
After initially halting all foreign arrivals, India began allowing diplomats, businessmen and journalists to enter but required them to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
It began issuing visas to tourists arriving on charter flights earlier this month. Tourists on regular flights will be allowed entry starting from mid-November – the start of the peak tourist season.
The ministry said the rules were revised in view of declining infection rates and rising vaccine coverage around the globe.
However, the lifting of quarantine requirements applies only to travellers who have been inoculated with vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation, and who come from countries with reciprocal agreements for entry of Indian travellers, it said.
The government has said it will waive the tourist visa fee – ranging from $25 to $100 – for the first 500,000 visitors.
India received nearly 11 million foreign tourists in 2019, generating revenue of $30 billion for the country.
India has also reported a significant drop in infections in recent weeks. Health authorities recorded 14,300 new cases on Monday, down from 415,000 a day at the peak of a second wave of the pandemic in May.
The country administered its one billionth dose of Covid vaccine last week, but only about a third of the approximately 950 million adults eligible for vaccination are fully inoculated.