The travel & tourism businesses, by and large, are at a standstill worldwide. Country borders are sealed. Cities are at a stand-still. Flights are grounded. Cruise ships are docked in harbors. Trains are stationary. Buses are not plying. Hotels are shut. Restaurants are shuttered.
No one knows when the fury of the virus will abate. Social distancing is the new mantra. Masks and gloves are the new safety paraphernalia, and no one is even thinking of a holiday, let alone planning for the same.
Actually, over the past 70 odd days of lockdown a sense of fear psychosis has developed in the minds of the people.
Fear Of The Unknown. Fear Of:
Being touched by someone.
Being infected, and as a result
Infecting family and friends.
Being infected, while being far away from home and good health care
Bringing back the virus from travels overseas.
In fact it is this suspicion and fear that is taking its toll on the travel & tourism sector, the world over. Irony of the matter is that the travel hoppers, rearing to let themselves loose will need to wait for some more time to go in for an Indian tour package, till such time that there is a semblance of normalcy restored.
For the present moment it is anticipated that some of the western countries like Italy and Spain, even Germany and UK, and of course the US, that have recorded large number of corona deaths may not have too many takers for tourism in the near future. China too looks like negative territory for now.
Indians who were, in general very, fond of travel to Europe may have to wait it out before even thinking of travelling to these areas, because of all the bad news that has been coming from the continent in the past months.
It is very likely for these countries to take time in order to regain their charm, leaving the only possible option, that is, for an Indian travel package which too, as mentioned above, will require some time to be realized.
Business travel is expected to decrease significantly, as of now, since Zoom meetings have fast become the norm. Corporate advisories are out in most multinationals negating travel.
A significant proportion of companies are actively seeking, both, to reducing business travel and to cutting the number of employees commuting to and from the workplace, as per research by the global agency Sewells.
66% of businesses worldwide have set targets to reduce their volume of internal travel. 60% of businesses have targets to cut trips to suppliers. 66% of businesses have targeted to lower the number of journeys to clients. 65% of businesses consider video conferencing as a viable alternative to business travel.
Things are not looking good, meaning a big no, no for any kind of foreign or domestic touring, which hitherto used to be clubbed with a family outing of say an international tour package, or an Indian travel package.
Being more India specific and closer to home, we can see that over the past few days there is a lot of talk of resuming air services, though restricted to the domestic sector only. There is likely to be a good response to this in the sense that it will mainly attract the people wanting to get back home, after having been stranded, where ever they were. The second class of people who have been looking forward to the opening of the travel sector are the businessmen, in general.
Although, the centre is keen to start this service but some of the states are rather reluctant to open up, citing the fear of a community spread of the virus. The Ministry of Civil Aviation, through its minister Mr. Hardeep Singh, is strongly promulgating certain restrictions, to be adhered to by the public at large, in line with the notifications of the Ministry of Home and the Health ministry.
May 25th is the targeted date for the resumption of the domestic flights based on the following restrictions/ guidelines, which will be mandatory for all the fliers/travelers to follow.
Travelers will be required to wear face masks, will need to go through mandatory thermal screening and install the Aarogya Setu App.
Mandatory stipulation of a 60 minute window, for check – in procedure and baggage drop off, prior to departure.
Who can enter the airport?
Entry shall be permitted only to the passengers with confirmed web check-in.
Wearing of protective gear face mask and gloves shall be mandatory, for all passengers.
What about check-in bags, laptop bags or cabin baggage?
Only one check-in bag will be allowed. However, flyers will be allowed to carry a laptop bag or a ladies handbag in addition to their cabin baggage inside the flight.
Are food items allowed inside the aircraft?
No food items are permitted inside the plane, during the period of the flight.
Newspapers or magazines?
No paper or magazines will be available inside the aircraft.
What about pregnant women, elderly passengers?
The elderly and pregnant women have been advised by the GoI to avoid air travel, but in case it is mandatory for them to undertake such an air travel they can rest assured that, there are facilities for wheelchairs and, at certain airports, golf carts to help them board the flight.
Here Is The List Of Guidelines That The Passengers Need To Follow All The Way From Their Origin Of Travel To Their Destination
Passengers are required to familiarize themselves about the new procedures at the airport. Especially, about the norms of social distancing, minimum touch, baggage limitations, COVID-19 declaration, registering on Aarogya Setu App, digital payments, use of authorized taxis and slower processes and are thus advised to avoid last minute arrival at the airports of origin.
Passenger to ensure that he/she has made a web check-in and obtained a boarding pass. He/she should also download the baggage tag/baggage identification number.
Initially a passenger would be entitled to carry a maximum of one hand baggage and one checked-in baggage, as per the specifications laid down by the airline of his travel.
Passengers, to ensure wearing of protective gear, as per the prevailing requirement and that he will continue to wear the mask throughout the journey.
A passenger is required to adhere to the revised reporting time D-2 at the airport.
Passenger is required to travel in an authorized taxi/personal vehicle as per the norms as specified by the MHA.
All Precautions For Prevention Of Infection, To Be Taken While In Transit To The Airport.
The passenger shall not travel if he/she is staying in a containment zone. Also, they should not travel if they have been tested positive for COVID-19.
The passenger is mandatorily required to give a declaration to the following effect;
-l/we am/are not residing in any containment zone.
-l/we am/are not suffering from any fever/cough/any respiratory distress.
-l/we am/are not under quarantine.
-If I/we develop any of the above-mentioned symptoms, I shall contact the concerned health authorities, immediately.
-I/we have not tested COVID-19 positive.
-I/we am eligible to travel as per the extant norms.
-I shall make my mobile number/contact details available to the airlines whenever required by them.
-I understand that if I undertake the air journey without meeting the eligibility criteria, I would be liable to penal action.
The airlines shall ensure that the boarding pass is issued only after the passenger conforms to the above declaration.
In case of a PNR(Passenger Name Record) having more than one passenger, the declaration would be deemed to be covering all the passengers mentioned in the PNR.
From Airport To Destination
Disembarkation from the airliner would be sequential and passengers are advised to follow the instructions and not to rush to the exit gate.
Social distance/sanitation should be maintained at the arrival gate, aerobridges, coaches, jet ladders, etc.
Trolleys in the arrival area to be used sparingly
Passenger to wait at the baggage hold area till the baggage arrives in batches. Transit passengers will not be allowed to come out of the transit area.
Exit from Airport
The passenger would be required to use only the authorized taxi service while maintaining the prescribed hygiene protocols.
Only authorized taxis are allowed for ferrying the passenger from the airport.
Passengers are advised to follow the social distancing and hygiene while traveling in any mode of transportation.
On arrival at their destination, the traveling passenger will have to adhere to such health protocols as are prescribed by the destination States/UT.
Quarantine Rules Of States
Accounting for more than 30 percent of the total COVID-19 cases in India, Maharastra has expressed its reluctance to open up, they have rather opted to adopt a wait and see option till the 31st May 2020 before resuming the operations.
Although when resumed they will be adhering to the rules as laid down by the government, regarding the screening of every passenger landing in Maharashtra, and subjected to 14 days of mandatory institutional quarantine in large hotels. While the latest on this is that the state at present is permitting only 25 flights to leave or enter the state initially.
While awaiting details of the standard operating procedure, Goa Government will be collecting swab samples of all returnees in the airport itself and will be sending them to quarantine facilities until their reports are back.
Every one reaching Delhi airport will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day paid quarantine facility even if one doesn't show symptoms of coronavirus. Although home quarantine was allowed for the asymptomatic passengers, they soon revised the guidelines to mitigate any undue risk. The state government has also arranged transportation of such passengers to the institutional centers.
The 14-day institutional quarantine has also been made compulsory in Kerala for all those coming to the state. The returnees will be required to pay for their food and boarding and will be subject to punishment if they flout any quarantine rules.
The state government, however, has exempted pregnant women and children under the age of 14 from the regulation subject to their self-imposed isolation at home.
On May 18, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said that institutional quarantine is a must for anyone entering the state. However, in view of the limited amount of quarantine facilities in comparison with the number of people to enter the state every day after May 25, the government decided to rule out institutional quarantine and therefore opt for home quarantine with enhanced vigilance and surveillance mechanism.
Along with an increased number of tests and screenings, the government also believes that strict surveillance of people in home quarantine is the only way to keep the pandemic under check.
Ever since the state witnessed a spike in coronavirus cases after the influx of people from other states, it has been vehemently opposing the resumption of flights from May 25. While the state expressed that it is in favor of carrying out institutional quarantine for all returnees, it has also complained of lacking in facilities to carry it out effectively. The state also believes that a resumption of mobility is advised only after successfully combating COVID-19.
Telangana Andhra Pradesh
Both the state governments have prescribed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people returning via any means of transport.
Andhra government has said that in case the number of passengers from a particular district is more than 50, they will be shifted to their respective district for quarantine. Such passengers will have to undergo 14 more days of quarantine at home.
The Assam government has made 14-day quarantine mandatory for all passengers entering the state. It has, however, exempted the pilot and members and other engineering staff of a flight from being quarantined.
"We have launched a program 'ruthless quarantine with a big human heart' by aiming to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus in the state. From now, the state government will spend the expenditures of the people coming into the state from outside including food, hotel rent during the quarantine period," Health Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Punjab And Rajasthan
According to the advisory laid down by the Punjab government, returnees from other states or countries of the world are required to home quarantine themselves for 14 days regardless of them showing any symptoms.
Rajasthan government has also mandated a 14-day quarantine in the government quarantine facilities for all returnees to the state.
Bihar And Jharkhand
Returnees in Bihar will have to remain in paid quarantine facilities for a period of 14 days.
In Jharkhand, the government is, however, making quarantine arrangements for 500,000 people.
"This is the expected number but not everyone would come and many of those coming would be sent to home quarantine because of no symptoms," Nitin Kulkarni, Health Secretary, Jharkhand told The Economic Times. "The quarantine centers are up to panchayat level and there are more than 40 in one district."
As per guidelines issued by the Disaster Management Cell in the Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority, for all air and rail travelers, air ticket, boarding pass, or confirmed ticket will be sufficient to facilitate further movement from the airport or railway station to their destinations. Valid ID proof will have to be shown, wherever needed. However, the entry and exit into or from the state will be allowed only between 7 am and 7 pm.
ID proof will have to be shown, wherever needed
The entry into the state will be allowed only between 7 am and 7 pm
Those quarantined will have a choice to opt for the paid 14-day quarantine facility
Those coming from orange or green zone will have to be home quarantine
Travellers will have to download Arogya Setu app on their phones
Jammu And Kashmir
With a huge influx of stranded people returning to J&K, the state has made it necessary for all of them to get tested and have also made it mandatory for such returnees to get quarantined for 14 days. At Srinagar's Tourist Reception Centre, officials have been working around the clock to receive passengers and subsequently taking them to quarantine facilities.
We have got 125 hotels which are functioning as quarantine centres. We do 100 per cent sampling whosoever arrives. As soon as the test report comes, we discharge them," said Syed Hanief Balkhi, Additional Deputy Commissioner Srinagar to NDTV.
Though at the same time the Minister for Civil Aviation Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri is also pitching for the exemption from quarantine for those in the green as per the Aarogya Setu App
In a bid towards relaxing COVID-19 restrictions and easing inter-state mobility, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri on May 20, announced the resumption of flights in a"calibrated manner" starting from May 25.
Following this announcement, inter-state travel which had been suspended for the last two months in order to contain the coronavirus resumed under mandatory guidelines by the Civil Aviation Ministry.
While laying down the rules of conduct inside the airport, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri confirmed that there will be no mandatory quarantine for passengers on domestic flights.
While in a later tweet the Minister further emphasized that decisions of such caliber cannot be taken without the sanction of the states, the resumption of flights was still not well received by many states with high numbers of COVID-19 cases who were determined to make quarantine facilities mandatory for returnees.