After a 20-month lockdown due to the epidemic, India opens for foreigners


India has reopened its borders to mass international travel, lifting a 20-month ban, as coronavirus cases remain low and vaccination rates climb across the country. After suspending tourist visas in March of last year, India again allows properly vaccinated tourists from 99 reciprocal nations to enter without quarantine. The city-state of Singapore is on the list.
The government merely requires such visitors to be monitored for 14 days following their arrival. Since last month, tourists on chartered flights have been allowed access, and Indian officials extended that to commercial airline arrivals on Monday (Nov 15).
Many Indians have been travelling to domestic tourism hotspots in recent weeks, such as the western coastal state of Goa and the mountainous north, as a fatal second Covid-19 wave tapered down after causing peak infection rates of over 400,000 cases per day in early May. This month, families gathered to celebrate Diwali, the country’s biggest holiday, with new cases remaining far below 15,000 each day.
With more than a billion vaccine doses distributed, India’s vaccination effort is picking up steam, and antibody studies show that most Indians have already been exposed to Covid-19. While national infection levels have just dropped to levels last seen earlier this year, there are fears that the relaxing of restrictions would lead to complacency, similar to what happened when India’s two big waves were at their lowest point.
On a post-earnings call earlier this month, Rajni Hasija, director of tourism and marketing at the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism, noted that the reduction of limitations puts the travel sector in a very favourable position. She did, however, add a word of warning stating that “The threat of the third wave is still looming over (us).”


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