India ends 10-day quarantine for vaccinated UK travellers



India has withdrawn the mandatory 10-day quarantine rule for completely vaccinated British citizens arriving in the country, days after the UK eased similar quarantine restrictions for fully jabbed Indians.

In an official memorandum, India’s health ministry said that its 1 October guidelines for UK nationals arriving in India stand withdrawn and earlier rules on international arrival dated 17 February will be applicable.

According to the travel rules from February, airlines need to ensure passengers have a negative RT-PCR test result before they board the flight in UK. Upon arrival, travellers need to take a test at the first point of entry.

If the passenger tests positive, they must isolate themselves till the completion of treatment. If they test negative, the passenger must undergo home quarantine for seven days and get tested again on the eighth day.

On 1 October, the Indian government had imposed reciprocal travel curbs, including mandatory quarantine, irrespective of the vaccination status. They were a product of the diplomatic tension between the two countries over the India-made AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

Britain had earlier refused to recognise Covishield, which is manufactures by the Serum Institute of India in Pune. The UK government only recognised vaccination certificates from a handful of countries like the US, European nations, and UK-administered vaccine programmes.

Under the UK travel policy in September, fully vaccinated Indians had to isolate for 10 days and take Covid-19 tests at their own expense. This led to speculations about the UK’s distrust of Indian vaccination certificates and India-made vaccines.

The rules were dubbed “discriminatory” and even “colonial” by many in India, especially since the majority of Indians were administered Covishield, an India-manufactured version of AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also exported to many countries under the Covax alliance.

Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar raised the issue with his British counterpart Liz Truss in New York on 21 September and reportedly urged her to remove the quarantine requirement for vaccinated Indians.

The UK government then amended its travel guidance to approve the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but did not add India to the quarantine exempt list of countries. The move led to New Delhi imposing retaliatory quarantine rule for British nationals.

Following a severe backlash and after a long row of negotiations and allegations, the British government ended the mandatory quarantine rule for Indian travellers from 11 October.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson held a telephonic conversation on Monday where “they welcomed UK’s recognition of Indian vaccine certification”.

The statement by the British government said the two prime ministers discussed the shared fight against coronavirus and the importance of cautiously opening up international travel.

“They agreed the UK’s recognition of Indian vaccine certification is a welcome development to that end,” it said.



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