The Central government has decided to allow transit of foreign nationals stranded in India amidst the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent national shutdown.
A notification to this effect was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday, stating that it view of the representations made by some foreign countries for evacuation of their nationals from India, the Ministry of External Affairs will consider such requests on case to case basis.
The government has decided that only those foreign nationals who test COVID negative will be allowed to travel back in chartered flights arranged by the concerned foreign government.
The following protocol will be observed by the MEA:
"i) The chartered flight would be arranged by the concerned foreign government in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India.
ii) Prior to departure, the foreign national(s) would be screened for COVID-19 symptoms as per the standard health protocol. Only those foreign national(s) would be allowed to leave, who are asymptomatic for COVID-19. In case of symptomatic person(s), the future course of treatment would be followed, as per the standard health protocol.
iii) The local transportation arrangements from the place of stay of the foreign national(s) to the point of embarkation would be arranged by the local Embassy/ Consulate of the respective foreign government.
iv) The transit pass for movement of the vehicle deployed for movement of the foreign national(s) would be issued by the Government of the State/Union Territory where the foreign nationals) is/are staying."
The government of India through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had banned all scheduled International passenger flights to depart or land in India after 5.30 am on March 22.
Further, all persons travelling from foreign destinations after February 15, irrespective of their nationality, were quarantined in government arranged facilities. In respect of such persons if found COVID negative after quarantine period, the following protocol will be followed:
"i) Person(s) testing negative for COVID-19, and as per standard health protocol, would be released from the said quarantine facility(ies). However, this will not apply to a group, where even one person tests positive for COVID-19.
ii) These persons are expected to return to their homes, or to the homes of their families/relatives/friends or to other places of shelter like hotels, etc., by making their own transport arrangements.
iii) The transit pass for movement of vehicle(s), being used by such person(s), would be issued by the Government of the State/Union Territory where they have been quarantined.
iv) The transit pass will be issued for fixed route and with specified validity and such person(s) shall follow the same.
v) The transit pass, as issued above, would be honoured/ allowed by the authorities of the State/Union Territories along the transit route.
vi) As a measure of abundant caution, upon returning to their destination such persons would home quarantine themselves for a further period of 14 days as per standard protocol on the matter.
vii) Details of person(s) released from quarantine, along with their destination, will be shared with the concerned State/ UT Government for necessary follow up."