Dubai's second airline, flydubai, is stopping all flights to India up to March 31. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: UAE airline, flydubai, is cancelling all flights to India between March 17 and 31, according to an update on their website. The airline services eight destinations in India, including Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Calicut and Kochi.

The update read, "India: Following a directive from the authorities in India, flydubai flights to and from India will be cancelled between 17 and 31 March."

The Indian government had laid down travel restrictions on Monday (March 16) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from high-risk areas, along with comprehensive measures to maintain "social distancing" to prevent local transmissions. India issued the new travel advisory after a meeting of the Group of Ministers on COVID-19.

On Tuesday, March 17, India prohibited travel of passengers from Afghanistan, Philippines, Malaysia to #India is prohibited with immediate effect. The Ministry of External Affairs in its latest tweet said: "No flight shall take off from these countries to India after 1500 hours Indian Standard Time."

What is 'social distancing'?

Social distancing refers to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people, to reduce the chance of contamination. When a virus with pandemic potential emerges, non-pharmaceutical interventions like social distancing often are the most effective ways to help slow down the transmission of the virus in communities.)

Owing to the pandemic, India’s national carrier Air India cancelled a number of flights from the UAE. The changes come into effect from March 16 for some flights and last up to April 30 in some cases.

Mandatory quarantine

India issued another travel advisory, saying all passengers travelling from or transitting through four GCC countries - the UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar - will be mandatorily quarantined for 14 days. “Expanding compulsory quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for passengers coming from/transiting through #UAE, #Qatar, #Oman, and #Kuwait," India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare tweeted on Monday evening. "This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 18th March 2020 at the port of first departure.” 

Sweeping restrictions

India also prohibited travel from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and UK. No airline shall board a passenger from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT on March 18. The airlines shall enforce this at the port of initial departure, the government announced.

“Both these instructions are temporary measures and shall be in force till March 31 and will be reviewed subsequently,” it added.