Indian officials to suspend tourist visas for international travelers March 13 to at least April 15. Additional controls in place.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 11 Mar 2020 20:06 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Enhanced health screenings, travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Flight disruptions, longer immigration wait times, quarantine measures; possible commercial disruptions

Summary
Effective 0630 IST March 13, Indian officials will suspend previously issued tourist visas for all international travelers. The restrictions are set to remain in place through at least April 15. Foreign nationals with diplomatic, work and project visas are to be exempt from the controls. Tourist visas will effectively be invalidated for foreign nationals outside India; however, visas will remain valid for travelers already in the country. Additionally, Authorities are calling on Indian nationals to suspend all nonessential international travel. Any Indian nationals with recent travel history in China, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Italy, Germany, France, or Spain will be required to undergo mandatory quarantines of 14 days. Indian authorities had previously canceled visas issued to nationals of affected countries, along with other foreign nationals with recent travel history to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, or Spain. The measures are aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Officials have enhanced health checks at all air, sea, and land ports. Authorities continue to quarantine passengers from mainland China, regardless of symptoms, as of March 11; such passengers must remain in their homes or a medical facility for at least 14 days after arrival. Officials are universally screening all international passengers and carrying out enhanced health monitoring for passengers with a travel history to affected areas. Health staff may continue to follow up on passengers from affected countries, typically by phone, for up to the first 28 days of their stay in India. All other passengers are required to sign a health and travel history declaration upon entry into India. Symptomatic passengers will be subject to further checks and possible quarantine. Indian authorities have expanded land border closures with Bangladesh and Myanmar; as of March 11, border crossing points with Myanmar are closed. Northeastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, and Sikkim are also restricting entry for foreigners and Indian residents from other states.

Authorities have suspended flights to and from Iran indefinitely. At least two Indian air carriers - Air India (AI) and IndiGo Airlines (6E) - have suspended flight operations to mainland China and Hong Kong until at lesat June 30 and June 14, respectively. Multiple Indian carriers have also stopped flights to Qatar following a March 9 travel ban on Indian nationals. Precautionary measures and low demand has caused additional flight cancellations between India and affected countries, such as Japan, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. Further flight disruptions are highly likely, as demand for international travel decreases sharply.

India has also expanded in-country measures such as limited screening of domestic air passengers, advisories to minimize public gatherings, school closures in Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Additional measures could be introduced in the coming days, particularly if the number of in-country cases increases. Passengers from affected countries and those with flu-like symptoms are especially likely to be impacted. Increased health screenings are likely to result in increased wait times at international airports and some land border crossings.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Confirm entry requirements, visa validity, and travel reservations before checking out of accommodation, if traveling to or from India. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Plan for commercial disruptions due to shipping delays; seek alternative shipping routes or methods for time-sensitive consignments.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Help Page: mohfw.gov.in

Bureau of Immigration: boi.gov.in

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