The Government of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced on Monday, May 4, that it is beginning to facilitate the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad during the coronavirus pandemic. The country has been on near-lockdown since March 11, when all foreign and tourist visas were suspended. The process is set to occur in phases starting on Thursday, May 7.
A Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) has been released to ensure the safety and security of those who have compelling grounds to return to India. Travel will be arranged via aircraft (non-scheduled commercial flights) and naval ships. Passengers are responsible for the cost of travel from the designated airport in the U.S. to the designated airport in India. The Indian Embassies and High Commissions have prepared a list of distressed Indian citizens, and they will be allowed to return on a payment basis.
Before getting on the plane, passengers will be medically screened. Only passengers who show no symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed to board. They are also required to sign an Undertaking that will be collected before boarding. During flight, passengers will have to follow Health Protocols and other protocols as established by the Ministries of Health and Civil Aviation.
Upon returning home, passengers will have to download and register the Aarogya Setu app. Everyone will again be medically screened, and they will then be quarantined for 14 days in either a hospital or an institutional quarantine facility (again, on a payment basis). Passengers who test negative after getting off the plane will be allowed to home quarantine and are required to self-monitor their health while in isolation. They will be screened again after the 14-day quarantine, and further action will be taken as necessary.
State governments will facilitate arrangements, including testing, quarantine, and onward movement of returning Indian citizens once they have been cleared to move about freely in the country.
The Registration Form is available here for Indian nationals who wish to return home. Please submit one form per individual. The form is only for the government to collect relevant information for planning and is not considered an official reservation.
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