Alert flyers: Govt makes on-arrival RT-PCR ‘pre-booking’ mandatory from at-risk countries


Passengers coming from ‘at-risk’ countries to six major Indian airports have to compulsorily pre-book for the on-arrival RT-PCR test from December 20 onwards, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Tuesday. However, it clarified that in case a person faces any difficulty in pre-booking the test, the passenger must not be denied boarding. The six airports are in Delhi, Mumbai Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

According to the Union health ministry, ‘at-risk countries include countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand and Israel.

In an order on Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Ministry said: “Air Suvidha portal would be modified to allow the passengers to mandatorily pre-book the RT PCR test if they are coming from the countries ‘at risk’ or have visited ‘at risk’ countries in the last 14 days.”

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The link to the airport website would be provided in Air Suvidha platform which would be displayed to passengers while filling up the self-declaration form, it mentioned.
“To stabilise the system and to ensure that the passengers would not have any problem in pre-booking, payment, etc, it may be implemented in six metro cities, namely, Delhi,

Mumbai Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad in the first phase,” it noted. Considering the convenience of the travellers, a lead time of a week would be provided, it said. This means the new system to come into effect on December 20, it stated.

Aviation regulator DGCA is requested to issue advisory to all airlines to check mandatory pre -booking of their passengers before boarding the flight, it mentioned. “In case any passenger is having any difficulty in pre-booking, they may not be denied boarding, but it would be the responsibility of the airlines to identify and accompany such passengers to the registration counter at the airport for testing,” it noted.

Under the new norms that came into force from December 1, RT-PCR tests are mandatory for passengers arriving from “at-risk” countries, and they will be allowed to leave the airport only after the results come.

Also, two percent of passengers arriving on all flights from other countries — such as the US — will be subjected to the test randomly.

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Sagar Biswas

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