Indian Government proposes fully-vaccinated flyers should no longer need RT-PCR tests for domestic flying

Most states in India have been mandating RT-PCR reports for those arriving in their state, in an attempt to stem the inflow of passengers who might have been infected with Covid-19 and not known about it. The irritating part for me personally has not been the fact that a report has been needed, but the fact that different states have different asks. For instance, after Mumbai asking for a report which was within 72-hours from sample collection, it is now a within 48-hour sample collection ask now.

The different timelines have caused confusion, or the attempt to confuse the airlines in some cases by passengers as well. For example, in the first week of June 2021, I was on a Vistara flight between Mumbai and Delhi, and at the check-in counter, there was a group trying to harass the agents into accommodating them on a flight to Goa with an expired RT-PCR report.

With health being a state subject in India, the state governments get to determine who gets to enter their borders, what kind of testing they need to go through and what are the quarantine requirements, if any, before they let them get out. As was the case with the ICMR advisory issued earlier, it was just an advisory and states chose to ask for a report anyways.

Some states have already started opening up, however, to fully vaccinated travellers. Chattisgarh & Goa are allowing fully vaccinated travellers to arrive without tests, and Punjab is also okay to have those with just one dose to come in, as long as it is over 14 days old.

Now, the central government is trying to mediate, at least for the flyers, to do away with the requirement of an RT-PCR report for fully vaccinated travellers.

However, the government has also protested the need for the issuance of a vaccine passport at the G7 meet, which would enable people to travel more freely, and called it discriminatory. This makes no sense to me, as eventually, this is going to be just a certificate that states that you are fully-vaccinated, and your Arogya Setu app will show your vaccination status anyways. So eventually, everyone will either be not-vaccinated, partially-vaccinated or fully-vaccinated against CoVid-19.

Bottomline

You might soon see more states opening up to the idea of a fully-vaccinated person not having to carry an RT-PCR report every time they fly in India. This should also motivate some people to get vaccinated, if only for travel perks if nothing else. However, it does not seem like for international travel, such an initiative is in the works for now.

What do you think about the current move by the government to rally state governments into opening up travel without RT-PCR for vaccinated travellers? And have you been vaccinated yet?


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