Top Union Home Ministry officials may release India’s official reopening date for tourism within the next 10 days, senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Friday.
Together with the reopening date, the government will also disclose the restrictions and the “modalities for opening up of the country for foreign tourists.”
Up to now, India has confirmed it will issue five thousand tourist visas free of cost in a bid to boost the airline and tourism sectors.
The program will grant free visas until March 31, 2022, or until the 5,000 free visas have been issued, whichever is earlier. The country will invest a total amount of 100 million rupees, (US 1,355,815.00) in this scheme.
The government had to halt its E-Visa program in March 2020 following a statewide lockdown amidst one the worst Covid-19 spikes the world has witnessed.
Home Ministry officials still weigh whether international visitors should be permitted admission under specific conditions such as being vaccinated or if they would include a list of banned countries.
All this decision-making process is only possible thanks to a steady decrease in Covid-19 caseload in the country, said Pandjaitan.
Covid-19 infections peaked in September 2020, and then began to decline down to 11,000 cases per day by February 2021. But right after, the pandemic had another sharp increase.
This trend has been attributed to some specific factors. Experts suggest that the development of the Delta variation sparked the increase, and a shortage of basic health facilities made it worse.
As of Sept. 21, only 20% of the population has been fully vaccinated according to data released by the Union Health Ministry.
Dr Gagandeep Kang, a local vaccine expert, has warned that a third wave of infections may be on its way if Indians do not “change our attitude in view of the festivals.” But she also believes that the severity would not be as much as before.
Down to Earth, a New Delhi-based ORG that focuses on politics of environment and development, has calculated that the country needs approximately 0.6 million more doctors and two million more nurses in primary health centers to continue fighting the pandemic.