The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in India extended the guidelines for reopening the country on November 30. International commercial flights continue to be suspended until at least December 31 and national authorities have not announced any changes or new dates for reopening yet.
As of today, only the following travellers are allowed entry to the country.
Foreign health care professionals
What are the entry requirements to be granted access to India?
All travelers must apply for a visa from the Indian Embassy beforehand.
In order to enter the country, they must fill out a self-declaration form 72 hours before departure and submit a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test upon arrival.
Submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 96 hours before arrival.
If they do not have negative test results, they will face 7 days of institutional quarantine followed by 7 days of at-home isolation.
Travelers will also be thermally screened at the airport upon arrival.
Any visitors showing symptoms will be isolated.
What countries can now travel to India?
As of November 30, travelers visiting from the following 22 countries may be allowed entry.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
United Kingdom (UK)
United States of America (USA)
Others may also be allowed in the future as the country gradually opens its borders.
How the Coronavirus has affected India?
As of November 30, India has 9,390,791 positive COVID cases and 136,705 deaths caused by the virus with an average of 80-90k cases per day.
India remains as the second most infected country, after the United States.
As the charts shows, India has not contained the virus. In fact, according to the New York Times, India has the fastest-growing Covid-19 outbreak in the world.
While originally India mandated strict lockdowns on its population to help contain the spread of the disease, over time compliance became a problem as there are many day laborers in the country who have very little in savings. Many states, as well, decided to end the lockdowns early for economic reasons.
However, even when lockdowns were in effect, the lack of contact tracing and the extremely crowded conditions in the cities have made it hard to contain the spread of Covid-19.
One troubling piece of information is that tribal groups on the isolated Andaman and Nicobar Islands have come down with the virus. Since India tightly controls access to these areas, the fact that even they are getting sick means that the virus has spread everywhere in the country.
The economic effects of the lockdown, which was one of the world’s strictest when it was in effect, have been devastating to India.
How safe is it to travel to India?
While not all parts of India are dealing with a rise in cases, most of the major cities are.
While many hotels, restaurants, beaches, and other tourist sites have been opening up, they are doing so with limited seating capacity, thermal checks, and other restrictions.
While these types of controls help, it’s probably not a good idea to visit India at this time as a tourist.
According to the CDC, the COVID-19 situation in India is at warning level 4 and all types of traveling should be avoided. The risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 is very high. (Source: CDC.gov)
Why visit India?
India is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations and it has an architecture that is rooted in this history.
Here you will find 32 UNESCO World Heritage sites which makes this a delight for those who love history or design.
One building that should be on everyone’s bucket list is the Taj Mahal, which is considered one of the seven wonders of the world. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a marble mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
In addition to this stunning structure, you’ll find many other architectural wonders in India. There are the ruins of ancient cities, forts dating from the British era, and more recent monuments from after India’s independence. The variety of temples, mosques, and churches speak of India’s religious diversity.
Here you’ll find Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Catholics, Jains, and Buddhists. Many tourists come to India to develop a deeper appreciation for their own spirituality, whether at a meditation or yoga retreat or simply through visiting the local holy sites.
You’ll also find a wide variety of foods, from moderately spicy northern curries to the burning hot flavors of the South. Some of the tastiest meals can be made up of Indian street food, sold by vendors who specialize in just a few dishes.
You’ll also find the people here to be among the most gracious. Everywhere you go, you will be greeted with smiles.
The pandemic has hit India particularly hard. Therefore, its probably not a good idea to plan a visit here at this time.
However, you should definitely visit this tantalizing subcontinental country when Covid-19 is no longer a factor.