COVID-19: India to reopen international commercial flights on 27 March

The government is set to lift restrictions in place since March 2020 to revive local tourism, which has lost more than 21.5 million jobs due to the pandemic. The decision was made possible by progress in the vaccination campaign, which has reached over 90 per cent of the population over 15 years of age in many Indian states.

Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Government of India has announced that all restrictions on international commercial flights to and from India due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted on 27 March.

This comes more than two years after a total lockdown was decreed on 23 March 2000 at the start of the first wave of the pandemic. For the authorities, this is an important step to get the country back to normal following worldwide progress in vaccination.

In July 2020, restrictions were partially lifted but only to and from 37 countries within a bubble. Now, despite the Omicron variant, the pandemic appears to be on the decline; only 3,527 new cases were reported on Monday, the lowest number since May 2020.

Major progress has also been made in vaccination. At present, 967 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine; in many Indian states, that means more than 90 per cent of the population over 15. Over 800 million or more than 60 per cent of the total population have had their second dose.

In view of this, the authorities decided that it was time to open the borders, especially with the economy in mind.

“With this step, I’m confident the sector will reach new heights,” said a hopeful Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia after announcing the decision to end air travel restrictions.

Reviving tourism is the main goal of this measure, which tourism-related businesses were waiting impatiently. Now they want the government to make it easier for foreign travellers to obtain visas.

A report by the Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy to the Indian parliament a few weeks ago noted that more than 21.5 million people employed in the tourism sector lost their jobs due to the pandemic.