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October 18, 2020

The spread of coronavirus across the world has led to the cancellation of numerous flights and left innumerable Indians stranded across the world. The Indian government has tried bringing back Indians in phases. The lockdown imposed by the Indian government in March led to a complete stop of international and domestic flights. The stoppage of international flights left many Indians stranded abroad. Now, the Ministry of Home Affairs has started a Standard Operating Protocol to bring back the stranded Indians. From 7th May onwards, the Indian government by means of civilian flights and non-scheduled chartered flights and ships run by the navy will start bringing back the Indians stranded abroad.

This protocol is meant for those Indians who have traveled abroad for work, vacation, higher education, internships, and trade and commerce before the lockdown started in India and are facing problems due to the long continuation of the lockdown. Additionally, this protocol who wish to return to India due to illness or death in the family. If somebody wishes to return to India then one should contact and register in the Indian embassy in that country. Only those people will be allowed to fly the planes and control the ships that have tested negative for the COVID-19 test. Temporary visa holders, sick, old people, pregnant women, migrant labor, and students will be given priority while returning. All the expenses have to be borne by the passengers themselves.

Ministry of External Affairs will create a database of flights and ships for the passengers based on the registrations received in the various embassies. In that database, COVID-19 tests undertaken by the passengers and their results will also be included. This database will also be shared with the various states and union territories. The foreign ministry will also assign nodal officers to different states and union territories who will coordinate with other officers present in the state and union territory. Ministry of External Affairs will publish the departure date, place, and time of the flights and ships along with a two-day period notice. The passengers have to sign an undertaking where they consent to undergo mandatory 14 days of self-quarantine upon returning to India. While boarding, thermal screening of passengers will be done by the ministry of external affairs. Only those passengers who have not been infected by the coronavirus will be allowed to return to India. All the health protocols will be followed in the flights and ships. The thermal screening will be performed once again upon reaching India. Aarogya Setu app has to be downloaded on every cell phone. On reaching India, symptomatic passengers will be taken to health centers while uninfected passengers will be taken to quarantine centers. If the uninfected passengers test negative after 14 days they will be allowed to return to their homes however they have to strictly monitor their health for the next 14 days.https://www.youtube.com/embed/wvBT7QC_WhM

If you are residing in India and have to go abroad for some urgent work then for them the protocol is only those people will be allowed to go a particular country where they are the citizens or at least hold a visa of that country for a one-year period or OCI holder. In case of illness or death in the family, Indian citizens holding a six-month visa will be allowed to go abroad. In this case, also, expenses have to be borne by the passengers themselves. A similar protocol will be followed in this case as well. The protocol for returning to India and leaving India is the same.

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