Coronavirus: Vaccinated travellers from the UAE, other parts of the Middle East and UK can skip quarantine in Mumbai

Institutional quarantine is also no longer required for the elderly, parents of young children, and those visiting critically-ill family

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Passengers who have received both Covid-19 vaccine doses in the UAE and other parts of the Middle East will no longer face mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival at Mumbai airport, city officials confirmed.

This is effective immediately, following an order issued on Saturday by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

The change in rules also applies to passengers from the UK, other parts of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

Guests need to provide a copy of their vaccination certificate for two doses

Travellers arriving from or transiting through the Middle East, the UK, other parts of Europe, South Africa and Brazil had been subject to stricter quarantine rules over the past month.

This was in a bid to curb the spread of variant mutant Covid-19 strains.

On arrival at Mumbai airport, passengers from this restricted list had to undergo compulsory institutional quarantine at government-approved hotels for a week, followed by seven days home quarantine.

"A person who has taken two vaccine jabs is not required to go for institutional quarantine now. He does not need any quarantine for that matter," Suresh Kakani of Mumbai's municipal corporation, told The National.

However, the authorities appealed to travellers to continue to be cautious.

“But even after taking the vaccine, we have noticed that some people are getting infected,” Mr Kakani said.

“So it is advisable that passengers from the restricted list should stay under home quarantine for a week. This is not mandatory.

“We are only advising this, since people come into contact with so many persons at the airport or on board a flight.”

Mr Kakani asked vaccinated travellers to inform authorities if they experience Covid-19 symptoms.

“Even after the vaccine, if the viral load goes up and they show some symptoms, they should report to us or to any medical facility.”

Etihad confirmed the change in rules.

“The institutional quarantine mandate on passengers arriving from and transiting the Middle East has been relaxed for vaccinated passengers arriving in Mumbai," an Etihad spokeswoman said.

"Guests need to provide a copy of their vaccination certificate for two doses, along with a completed self-declaration form to be exempted from institutional quarantine.”

Other travellers exempt from institutional quarantine

Pedestrians walk past a wall mural depicting medical staff as frontline Covid-19 coronavirus warriors, in Mumbai on March 21, 2021.  / AFP / Indranil MUKHERJEE
Pedestrians walk past a mural depicting medical staff as frontline Covid-19 warriors, in Mumbai.  AFP 

Mumbai also detailed other categories of passengers from the UAE, elsewhere in the Middle East, UK, other parts of Europe, South Africa and Brazil who will now be exempt from institutional quarantine – even, in these cases, if they have not been vaccinated.

These are:

Passengers above the age of 65.

Women in advanced stages of pregnancy.

Both parents accompanying children aged under 5.

Travellers arriving due to the death of an immediate family member, or if a family member is in a critical condition or has had a serious accident. Supporting papers should be shown to airport staff.

Travellers requiring immediate medical attention for an illness, including cancer, and travellers with a severe physical disability or mental illness. Supporting documents must be submitted on the condition or confirming the need for urgent admission to hospital.

Medical professionals travelling to perform "life-saving surgery" or attending critically-ill patients. Supporting documents from the hospital must be submitted.

Passengers from countries on the restricted list who do not fall under these categories, or who have not had two Covid-19 vaccines, must still go through a week's mandatory institutional quarantine, followed by another week of home quarantine.

How can vaccinated passengers apply for exemption?

To be considered for exemption from institutional quarantine, vaccinated travellers must provide proof to show to airport staff.

Passengers can also upload the vaccination certificate on the Air Suvidha online portal before flying to India.

A self-declaration exemption form in a prescribed format must be filled in.

“They should carry a hard or soft copy showing they were vaccinated,” Mr Kakani said.

The municipal corporation has set up a help desk at Mumbai airport to support passengers.

India has the third-highest number of Covid-19 cases globally, reporting 11.6 million patients and 159,967 deaths, with 11.2 million recoveries.

Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, is the worst-hit in India, with 2.4 million cases and more than 53,000 deaths.

Cities in India have varying quarantine rules for travellers arriving at international airports.

Stricter measures were announced last month by the federal health and civil aviation ministries to minimise the risk of the import of the mutant strains. The increase in transmissibility of the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants was also a concern.

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