Stock Dubai airport 2021
Passengers at Dubai International Airport. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Not all passengers flying from the UAE to Mumbai in the western Indian state of Maharashtra will have to undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival and a few categories of passengers can also get exemption from the mandatory institutional quarantine stipulated by the state government, Gulf News can reveal.

Passengers from the UAE and other countries in the Middle East flying to Mumbai, the financial capital of India, have to follow a set of new rules that are entirely different from those currently being implemented in other Indian cities.

Gulf News reached out to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) in Mumbai to get clarifications about the travel rules applicable to passengers flying from the UAE after the Indian government announced a new Standard Operating Procedure for international passengers arriving in India from February 23 onwards.

The following are the latest rules related to COVID-19 tests, quarantine and exemptions for passengers from the Middle East, flying to Mumbai, as explained by MCGM and CSMIA.

Who should get a predeparture COVID-19 negative test report?

All international passengers to Mumbai must upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test report issued within 72 hours of departure on the Air Suvidha portal. They should also carry the printed report with them.

What else should they submit?

All passengers must submit an undertaking form on the Air Suvidha portal, agreeing to undergo mandatory seven days of institutional quarantine at their own cost, followed by seven days of home quarantine with self-monitoring of health.

Should all passengers from the UAE get tested on arrival?

No. Passengers arriving from the Middle East or Europe do not have to undergo the on-arrival confirmatory molecular RT-PCR test if their final destination is within the state of Maharashtra.

Who should get tested on arrival in Mumbai?

Passengers arriving in Mumbai from the Middle East or Europe with onward journey outside Maharashtra will have to undergo mandatory test at Mumbai airport.

Do they have to wait at the airport for the test result?

No. They can take the connecting flight by showing the receipt of the test taken.

How much should they pay for the test?

The test fee is Rs850 (Dh42.5). The report will be available in nine to ten hours.

However, there is an option for a rapid RT-PCR test for Rs4,500, for which results come within 30 to 45 minutes.

Who else should be tested on arrival?

Passengers arriving from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil have to undergo a test irrespective of their final destination. Transiting passengers arriving from the UK, South Africa and Brazil have to undergo a test and can board a connecting flight out of Maharashtra only when the test results are negative.

Who should undergo mandatory quarantine?

It is mandatory for passengers arriving in Mumbai from the UK, Europe, Middle East and South Africa with a destination within Maharashtra to undergo seven days’ institutional quarantine in a hotel or at an MCGM quarantine centre. They will have to undergo a self-paid test on the seventh day of quarantine. If the result is negative, they can proceed for seven days of home quarantine. There is no need for a repeat test after the home quarantine period unless the passenger develops symptoms.

Which hotels are offering institutional quarantine?

Passengers can check the list of hotels (from budget hotels to five star hotels) providing institutional quarantine in Mumbai through the website of the MCGM. The details provided also include the rates and contact details of the quarantine facilities.

Who can get exemption from institutional quarantine?

An exemption from the mandatory institutional quarantine can be requested as per the categories mentioned on the MCGM website.

The exemption is granted at the sole discretion of MCGM authorities.

Passengers may be considered for exemption in the following cases:

1) Elderly passengers above 65 years of age, needing support.

2) Pregnant women.

3) Children below five years of age and parents accompanying them.

4) Passengers having serious illness and requiring medical attention such as cancer, physical disability, mental illness, cerebral palsy.

5) Passengers suffering from extreme distress in family i.e. father, mother, son, or daughter in a critical condition (death bed), or a serious accident involving a family member, or the death of an immediate family member.

Passengers from the above categories may be considered for exemption from institutional quarantine, subject to providing the required documents to the satisfaction of the officer-in-charge at the airport.

The exempted passengers shall strictly follow home quarantine rules and regulations and shall be liable for appropriate action in case of any breach of quarantine rules.

What about passengers from the UAE to Pune?

Pune International Airport currently does not enforce mandatory institutional quarantine on passengers from the UAE, said Dubai-resident Vrunal S, whose family flew on the only weekly flight to Pune on Thursday.

Passengers are tested on arrival and allowed to proceed for home quarantine till the time they receive a negative test report, he said. Vrunal said about his family: “They were only told to follow self-monitoring once the test report comes out negative.”

His six-month-old baby was not tested on arrival. The rest of the family members were tested at Rs850 each. Only one of Vrunal’s family members, his mother-in-law, had received an SMS with a negative report until Friday evening. The rest of the family members — Vrunal’s wife and her father — were still waiting for their test reports at the time of publishing this report.