Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: India extends domestic restrictions through July 31; regional variations likely. International commercial flights banned through July 15.
- Alert Begins: 01 Jul 2020 06:31 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Business and transport disruptions, increased security; possible clashes
India has extended ongoing nationwide measures to control the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through July 31. The relaxations for nonessential activity outside containment zones will continue. Nonessential activity and movement remain banned in containment zones with reported COVID-19 clusters, prompting disruptions in major areas of cities such as Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkata, Madurai, Mumbai, and Pune as of July 1. States such as Assam, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu State, and Puducherry have the strictest restrictions. The measures include a limit on nonessential activities, curtailment of operating hours of establishments and some essential services, suspension of long-distance public transport services, as well as prohibition on interdistrict travel except for emergencies, until further notice. Other states are likely to implement modified measures depending on the number of cases locally.
Other nationwide measures continue. Authorities require people to wear masks in public, practice social distancing measures, and follow the nightly 2200-0500 curfew. The ongoing closure of educational institutions and entertainment venues and the ban on large gatherings continue while businesses are required to utilize telecommuting to the extent possible. High-risk groups, such as essential workers, and those who transit daily to work, living in containment zones, or undertaking permitted interdistrict or interstate travel, must register on the national Aarogya Setu mobile application as well as state-specific online portals for contact tracing purposes.
Nationwide guidelines have allowed states to reopen public and religious sites and industrial, retail, and business facilities with adequate health measures in areas outside containment zones since June 8. However, most states continue to restrict the reopening of large retail centers, such as shopping malls, sports facilities, dine-in restaurants, and grooming services. Nonessential businesses are mostly required to limit workforce and operating hours to the extent possible. All forms of private and public transport, except Metro trains, are permitted to resume outside containment zones, albeit with social distancing. Although interdistrict and interstate travel is permitted, local authorities are limiting such travel to those with electronic passes approved for essential purposes. Interstate movement restrictions are most significant in northeastern states with special entry requirements due to tribal populations. Uttar Pradesh State has closed land borders with Delhi only exempting essential services; Rajasthan has sealed all road borders except for those with prior permission for essential travel. Similar variations are likely between regions through June, depending on the local caseload. Limited domestic flights have resumed, though availability is affected by low demand.
Interstate and international travelers must typically undergo quarantine for at least 14 days; symptomatic passengers are likely to do so at designated facilities, while asymptomatic persons may complete it at home or paid accommodation. Only Karnataka State has announced quarantine exemptions for those who will spend 48 hours or less in the state; such travelers must apply for a travel pass beforehand for exemption from testing and quarantine. Institutional quarantine up to 14 days is compulsory in mentioned destinations for the following people:
- Andhra Pradesh: Travelers from Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan will undergo quarantine in designated facilities.
- Himachal Pradesh: Those entering from Ahmedabad, Gujarat State; Chengalpattu and Chennai, Tamil Nadu State; Delhi, Gurgaon/Gurugram, Howrah, and Kolkata in West Bengal State; Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, and Thane of Maharashtra State; Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Indore, Rajasthan will undergo institutional quarantine.
- Jammu and Kashmir: All travelers will undergo testing upon arrival; those with positive results or symptoms will undergo quarantine in designated facilities. Authorities advise those with negative results or no symptoms to remain in home quarantine for 14 days.
- Karnataka: Travelers from Maharashtra State will face seven days of institutional quarantine followed by seven days of home quarantine. Asymptomatic passengers from Delhi and Tamil Nadu State will no longer need to undergo institutional quarantine as of July 1 but must serve a 14-day home quarantine like all other travelers.
- Northeastern states: All passengers entering Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim must undergo quarantine in designated facilities; authorities advise an additional 14-day home quarantine after the institutional quarantine ends. Tripura State mandates institutional quarantine and testing for all travelers from Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai, as well as other symptomatic travelers.
- West Bengal: Passengers from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh states, as well as Delhi, will be placed in quarantined centers for seven days; additional home quarantine and testing is likely.
State authorities are likely to modify guidelines at short notice according to the local situation.
There is no relaxation in containment zones, which are areas within 1 km (0.6 miles) of a reported COVID-19 cluster with four or more cases; local administrations may extend the zone beyond 1 km based on risk factors. State administration and police will continue to enforce and facilitate control measures. Residents must stay indoors except for emergency purposes. Officials typically deliver essential supplies to homes; door-to-door health screening is likely. Business operations, private and public transport, and entry or exit are banned. Emergency and utility services will remain operational. While banks and businesses selling essential goods, such as fuel, food, and medicines, will also function, officials will almost certainly regulate price, supply, and opening hours. Panic-buying and associated localized shortages of essential goods may occur in some areas. Sporadic clashes are possible if groups attempt to enforce business closures or defy official orders. Police may forcibly disperse unruly crowds. Violators may face legal action. Significant areas of major cities, such as Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai, are containment zones and are likely to see slow relaxation.
Most international passenger travel remains effectively banned through at least July 15, with some exceptions for the repatriation of Indian citizens and foreign nationals stranded in India, business travelers other than those with B-3 sporting visas, and OCI cardholders and their relatives. Family members of those in India with diplomatic, official, or UN/international organization visas are also permitted to enter India. Mentioned travelers must approach Indian consulates for new visas, regardless of previous visa status; they may enter the country via nonscheduled flights due to an ongoing ban on commercial international passenger flights through July 15. Arriving passengers are required to undergo self-paid quarantine for 14 days; asymptomatic travelers will quarantine at a designated facility for seven days and at home for the next seven days, while symptomatic travelers will quarantine at a medical facility. Passengers seeking exemptions and waivers must discuss all intended destinations and transit states with authorities before arrival. Officials also require passengers to download the Aarogya Setu mobile application for contact tracing purposes. Authorities are advising Indian citizens to delay all nonessential international travel. Officials have suspended visa issuance and canceled previously issued visas for all international travelers, except for holders of most business, diplomatic, official, UN/international organizations, employment, and project visas. Foreign nationals already in the country will receive a visa extension upon online application.
Officials are allowing some foreign citizens, residents, and long-term visa holders stranded in India to buy seats on Air India (AI) repatriation flights leaving India through June. The flights operate primarily to bring home Indian nationals who have been stranded abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These flights serve airports in several countries, including the UK, the US, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and multiple Central Asian nations. Foreigners looking to board repatriation flights need to confirm their entry eligibility with the embassy of the intended destination country and book their tickets through the websites of AI or its subsidiary, Air India Express (IX).
Additional measures could be introduced in the coming days, especially if the number of in-country cases increases.
Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Indian government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official instructions; minimize outdoor activity to the extent possible. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, work, and travel arrangements. Do not check out of accommodation without confirming onward travel. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Ensure access to essential items, plan for queues, and delays at available shopping centers. Carry proper identification documents, heed all security advisories.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.