British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis on Thursday revealed that fully-vaccinated Indian travellers won't have to undergo mandatory quarantine as long as both their jabs are with Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine. In doing so, the UK puts an end to a long-running stalemate, which had triggered a reciprocal move by the Indian government.
"No quarantine for India travellers to United Kingdom fully vaccinated with Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine from 11 October. Thanks to Indian government for close cooperation over last month," British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis tweeted today.
Ellis also acknowledged that UK's decision to lift the quarantine mandate for fully-jabbed Indians will be easier and cheaper for Indian nationals to enter the UK. Indian travellers won't be required to take a pre-departure test, nor the day 8 test after their arrival, as per the new guidelines.
"We have been actually open for Indian travellers for months. We have been issuing thousands of visas to students, travellers, tourists. Some of the noise about this issue over the last few weeks just shows how keen people are to travel to the UK. So let's now go further. Let's open up more flights between the two countries. Let's get British to tourists able to come into India, they are desperate to do so. Let's facilitate business travellers who are trying to come into India with e-visas. This is a further step down the road set by PM Modi and PM Johnson when they agreed to a comprehensive strategic partnership between our two countries in May," Ellis said in a video message.
UK's decision was announced hours after MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi termed the earlier decision as "discriminatory."
When India reciprocated UK's move
Reciprocating the rule instituted by the UK government on Indian travellers, the ones arriving in Indian would have to undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR test upon arrival at the airport and on the 8th day post-arrival, at their own expense. This would be irrespective of their vaccination status. More importantly, a 10-day mandatory quarantine at the destination address or home after arrival was also part of the modified restrictions.
UK's rule of imposing a mandatory quarantine even for Indian travellers fully-jabbed with Covishield, which is the same as AstraZeneca vaccine developed by Oxford University but manufactured in India, was met with heavy criticism. The rules were labelled "biased," "non-scientific" and "senseless discrimination."