New Delhi: India may permit regular international air travel as part of a fresh package of relaxations in containment measures against the spread of Coronavirus that were announced today.
"For further opening up of international air travel of passengers, the Ministry of Civil Aviation may take a decision in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs based on the assessment of the situation," the government's new "Guidelines for Surveillance, Containment and Caution," which will go into effect on 1st February said.
India suspended all incoming and outgoing international flights as well as domestic air travel in the last week March 2020 as part of a lockdown to combat COVID-19. Flights to and from India have since been resumed in a phased manner with about two dozen countries under "air bubbles." Meanwhile, India has fully opened up domestic air services.
Air bubbles are temporary travel arrangements with specific countries aimed at restarting scheduled commercial passenger services as the pandemic situation improves. Such flight arrangements are currently in force in the Gulf with the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.
Under the new guidelines from 1st February, "all activities will be permitted outside containment zones," which are specific areas with a high spread of COVID-19 infections.
"The main focus of the new guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of COVID-19. This is visible in the steady decline in number of active and new cases in the country over the last four months," the Ministry of Home Affairs said today.
Fresh relaxations include the opening of swimming pools and exhibitions. Cinema halls and theatres which been running at half capacity will now be permitted to operate with higher seating.