In light of the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic, India on Wednesday, March 18, further extended its ban on arriving international passengers, banning entry to even Indian passport holders residing in the United Kingdom, Turkey and whole of Europe till the end of March.
This ban follows a recent one issued by the government, which stated that foreign passport holders and Overseas Indian Citizen (OCI) cardholders were not allowed to enter the country. However, at the time, Indian passport holders were allowed to enter India.
With the worrying rise in COVID-19 cases across the world, and countries like Italy and France declaring a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, nations across the world have followed suit and issued a number of travel bans and restrictions. Here’s a roundup.
On March 18, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that the travel of passengers, which includes even Indian passport holders, from member countries of the European Union, the European free trade association, Turkey and the United Kingdom to India, would be banned March 18. In an official statement, the DGCA added: “No airline shall board passengers from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT on March 18, 2020. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure. Both these instructions are temporary measures and shall be in force till March 31, 2020, and will be reviewed subsequently,” the Economic Times reports.
The DGCA’s announcement came after an earlier one made on March 11, which stated that all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organisations, employment and project visas, would stand suspended from March 13 to April 15.
Apart from this all incoming travellers, including Indians, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15, 2020 will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.
Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration of last week, travel from countries like Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland to the U.S. has temporarily been suspended. Vice President Mike Pence has also announced that travellers from the U.K. and Ireland will now be included in this list. The ban, however, does not apply to American citizens.
China, the original epicentre of the outbreak, has said that all travellers coming into Beijing will have to be placed under mandatory quarantine, for a period of two weeks, on their own personal expense. International business travellers will only be allowed to stay in some select hotels in the capital city, and will be tested for the virus. Shanghai too, has said that all travellers coming in from South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden and Belgium will have to self-quarantine for two weeks as well, CNN reports.
The European Union has decided to temporarily close its external borders, in an attempt to prevent ‘non-essential’ travel into the bloc from third nations. As reported by CNN, only goods, medical resources and people in emergency situations will be allowed to enter the bloc. The measures, which will not extend to the U.K., will be implemented for about 30 days.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that all travellers entering the country will have to undergo 14 days of self quarantine. Along with this, travellers from China, Iran, South Korea and Italy will not be allowed to enter or transit through Australia for 14 days since they left the destination countries. These measures, however, are not extended to flight crew, Australian nationals and their families and New Zealand nationals residing in Australia. Morrison also said that no cruise ships will be allowed to dock in Australia for a period of 30 days, ABC news reported.
With over 9,000 positive cases of coronavirus in the country, Germany has closed off its borders with Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark as a precautionary measure to contain the outbreak.
The Spain Health Minister had earlier announced that all direct flights from Italy to Spain will be banned till March 25. Spain is also closing all its land borders, including its border with Portugal, and will only allow its citizens, residents and those with emergency situations to cross into the country, The New York Times reported.
With the country being on a lockdown, Italy has tightened measures on who they let into the country. Along with banning flights from China and Taiwan, it stated that all passengers flying into the country will have to undergo temperature screenings at major airports. It has also stated that travellers entering the country via airports will not be allowed entry into Alessandria, Asti, Lombardy, Modena, Novara, Padova, Parma, Pesaro and Urbino, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Treviso-Venice, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli.
Barring Japanese nationals and their immediate families, all other travellers who are attempting entry into the country after having visited the affected parts of China, South Korea or Italy in the past 14 days, will not be allowed in. The Japanese government has also advised against travel to Iceland and some parts of Switzerland and Spain, CNN reported.
Apart from airline crew, Indonesian nationals and their immediate families and residents of Indonesia, any traveller who has visited China, South Korea, Iran and the affected parts of Italy in the past two weeks, will be denied entry into the country, even through transit.
Nationals of nine European countries which include Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands will not be allowed entry into Turkey. Travel to these nine countries has also been halted for the time being. Along with this, those who have visited Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, South Korea or Sweden in the past 14 days, will also not be allowed to enter the country, even through transit, in wake of the virus outbreak, CNN reports.
With over 266 cases, the Singapore government has said that all in-bound travellers will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day home quarantine starting Saturday. They will reportedly even be asked to provide valid proof of where they are planning on staying. The government has also advised all Singaporeans to defer travel abroad with immediate effect, CNN reports.
A popular tourist haven for global travellers, Thailand has decided to suspend its visa on arrival programme from countries like India, Bulgaria, Bhutan, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and China. Under its new programme, it requires travellers to file for a visa in advance and also to provide proof that they are free from the COVID-19 disease, CNN reports. Meanwhile, Vietnam has banned the entry of all travellers who have visited the 26 European countries in the Schengen Area and the U.K. within the past 14 days. It has also removed its visa on arrival policy for the time being.
Russia has ordered for flights to the U.S., Britain and the UAE to be limited for the time being. It has also temporarily halted the processing of documents and issuing of all types of visas, including e-visas, The Moscow Times reports.
Following the government’s order to ban the entry of overseas travellers, the Ukraine International Airlines has suspended all international flights till March 31.
One of the nations worst hit by the virus, South Korea is denying entry to passport holders from China’s Hubei Province as well as those who have visited the latter area in the past 14 days. Along with this, it has invalidated visas issued by the Wuhan Consulate in the Hubei Province as well as those issued to nationals of Japan (at Korean Diplomatic Missions in Japan) before March 9, CNN reports.
Those having travelled to Bahrain, China, Taiwan, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kenya, South Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Macau, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkey or the UAE in the past 14 days will not be allowed entry into the kingdom. This rule, however, does not apply to Saudi nationals. The Mecca and Medina pilgrimages have also been placed under a temporary ban.
Hong Kong will reportedly be issuing a red outbound travel alert on all foreign countries except for mainland China, Taiwan, and Macao. It will also require those travelling from all foreign countries to self quarantine at home for a period of 14 days.
Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, who himself is practicing self-isolation since his wife reported positive for COVID-19, has said that save for Canadian and U.S. citizens and those residing in Canada, no one else will be allowed to enter the country.
Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, places like Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia and Morocco are banning international travel both to and fro from the respective countries. Some, like Columbia and Czech Republic, are not allowing non-residents to enter the respective countries at all, in fear of the rapid spread of the virus.
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Sanjana Ray is that unwarranted tour guide people groan about on trips. When she isn't geeking out on travel and history, she can be found walking around the streets, crying for Bengali food. She is former Digital Writer at National Geographic Traveller India.