Just a day before the Centre was to resume domestic flights, confusion prevails over quarantine rules set by different states. Not just that, several states have also expressed reservations over the central government’s decision to partly resume aviation operations at this juncture.
Maharashtra, one of the worst-hit states due to COVID-19, has said that it’s extremely “ill-advised” to reopen airports in the red zone. Taking to Twitter, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said: “Mere thermal scanning of passengers inadequate w/o swabs. Impossible to have autos/cabs/buses ply in current circumstances. Adding positive passenger will add Covid stress to red zone.”
As per the May 19 order of the state government extending the coronavirus-induced lockdown to May 31, all domestic and international air travel, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes as permitted by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), will continue to remain prohibited across the state.
“We have not yet amended this lockdown order issued on May 19,” an official told PTI when queried about the resumption of passenger flights in Maharashtra.
In the wake of the recent destruction caused by cyclone ‘Amphan’, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she will write to the Centre to send flights to Bagdogra airport in North Bengal until the situation improves in Kolkata, NDTV reported.
Tamil Nadu, the state on the second spot in terms of positive cases, too shares Maharashtra’s concerns and has requested the Centre to extend its plan until May 31.
Meanwhile, several states have announced their own quarantine rules despite the Civil Aviation Minister on Thursday saying that domestic passengers needn’t be quarantined for the mandatory 14 days.
However, taking stringent measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, Kerala government on Saturday made it mandatory for all people coming from other states to Kerala by domestic flights to remain under home quarantine for 14 days from the date of arrival.
The state government also made it compulsory for such travellers to register their details on COVID-19 Jagratha portal after obtaining flight tickets.
“The Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India has announced the operation of domestic flights throughout the country from May 25. In order to facilitate the entry of persons coming to Kerala from various states, certain guidelines are issued for strict implementation by District Collector, District Police Chiefs and other heads of departments concerned, ” reads the state government order issued on Saturday.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too said everyone entering the state, whether on domestic flights or trains or buses, will have to compulsorily undergo home quarantine for 14 days.
He ruled out any complacency despite Punjab posting the highest recovery rate of 90 per cent in the country.
“Screening of those entering the state would be done at all state and district border entry points, as well as railway stations and airports, and those found symptomatic would be sent into institutional quarantine, while others would have to undergo mandatory two-week home quarantine,” the chief minister said in his live Facebook programme.
Domestic passengers flying in from six coronavirus-hit states across the country to Karnataka from Monday would be quarantined for a week in institutional centres as well, an official said on Saturday.
“Passengers flying in from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh to Bengaluru from May 25 will have to go through 7-day institutional quarantine followed by 7-day home quarantine,” said the health official in a statement here.
Fliers or returnees from other low-prevalence states, however, will be sent in 14-day home quarantine.
“Institutional quarantine is, however, not applicable to pregnant women, children below 10, people above 80 and terminally-ill patients, although their swabs will be taken on arrival for tests,” added the statement.