India will re-open for travelers from October 15 after being closed for more than a yr due to the coronavirus pandemic, the authorities said yesterday.
The country had suspended all visas for foreigners in March 2020 when the pandemic took off as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government imposed a strict lockdown.
“After considering a variety of inputs, the MHA (home ministry) has decided to begin granting fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with impact from October 15, 2021,” the home ministry said in a statement.
“Foreign travelers entering into India by flights different than a chartered plane would be able to do so only with impact from November 15, 2021, on fresh Tourist Visas,” it added.
Earlier this year the country of 1.3 billion people used to be hit by a severe wave of coronavirus infections with about 400,000 cases and 4,000 deaths each day.
Hospitals have been overwhelmed as more than 200,000 people died in a period of around 10 weeks, in accordance with official numbers that are widely considered as an underestimate.
The spike used to be blamed on new virus variants and the authorities having lifted restrictions too soon and allowing sporting events and major celebrations for religious festivals to take place.
But cases in the country have since slowed sharply to around 20,000 new each day infections and 200 to 300 deaths in the latest weeks.
More than 250 million people have been double-vaccinated, even though this equates to only around 20 percent of the population, and specialists warn that India should suffer another wave of infections.
The Indian economic system suffered one of the sharpest slumps among major economies as a result of the pandemic, with output suffering its worst drop since independence, pushing millions again into poverty.
The initial lockdown last March, in particular, used to be a catastrophe, leaving tens of millions of employees in the informal economic system without work almost overnight.
Tourism is an important sector for Asia’s third-largest economy, with the united states seeing 10.93 million traveler arrivals in 2019, according to the government.
Since last March restrictions on most categories of foreign visas such as diplomats and businesspeople have been steadily lifted but travelers remained barred even as most financial activities resumed.
The home ministry said it “had been receiving representations” from state governments and different stakeholders in the tourism industry to allow travelers to return.
It burdened that all Covid-19 protocols “should be adhered to by the foreign tourists, carriers bringing them into India and all other stakeholders at landing stations”.