The Central Government has made it mandatory for passengers coming from ‘at-risk’ countries to book for RT-PCR tests prior to boarding the flight. It is the responsibility of the airline to ensure that the passenger has done the pre-booking for the test.
The mandatory norm will be implemented from December 20 for those arriving at Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bengaluru. This is phase one of the implementation and may be expanded to other airports in the coming months. Besides the passengers from ‘at-risk’ countries, the norm applies to those who have visited and stayed in ‘at-risk’ countries in the last 14 days.
The Government has already modified the Air Suvidha portal to ensure that passengers will not have any problem in pre-booking, payments, etc. A link to the concerned airport website will be displayed on the Air Suvidha platform, which the passengers can choose to book for the pre-testing. They also have to upload a self-declaration about their health status besides other documents.
The countries coming under the ‘at risk’ category include the United Kingdom, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, China, New Zealand, Brazil, Hong Kong, Israel and Tanzania.
Advisory released to airlines
The aviation regulatory authority, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has already released an advisory to all airlines directing mandatory checking of pre-book status of the passengers boarding the flights. If the passenger has not pre-booked the RT-PCR test, the airline has to assist the passengers by taking them to the registration counter at the arrival airport for testing. They cannot deny boarding of flights on this basis.
A similar norm was announced in the United Kingdom earlier. Unlike India, the country bans passengers from boarding the flight if they have not pre-booked for the test.