As the country’s vaccination rate goes up, more and more states are now exempting vaccinated travellers entering their jurisdiction from mandatory RT-PCR tests. In addition to scrapping mandatory Covid-19 tests, several states are also removing quarantine rules for fully or partially vaccinated travellers.
However, despite the progressive reopening of the economy, conflicting rules across states end up confusing flyers.
RT-PCR test for travellers
Several state governments and city administrations had made a negative RT-PCR test, conducted a maximum of 48 hours before travelling, mandatory to stop an infected individual from entering their jurisdictions. With vaccinations gathering pace, many states have scrapped this requirement.
Travel guidelines for states
While some states have completely removed testing requirements, some have put exemptions in place only for vaccinated travellers. However, there are still states and cities that are seeking a negative RT-PCR report, even in the case of fully vaccinated travellers, in some instances.
Mandatory RT-PCR test: The likes of Andaman, Chhattisgarh, Ladakh, Mizoram, Jharkhand, and Tripura require flyers to furnish a negative RT-PCR report conducted between 48 and 96 hours before travel.
Vaccinated travellers: Assam and Meghalaya conduct a Covid-19 test on arrival. However, Assam requires prior test and vaccination for exemptions.
Chandigarh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Sikkim have granted exemptions if one vaccine dose is taken. Rajasthan, however, requires a mandatory test no older than 72 hours if not vaccinated.
Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur, and Maharashtra require a negative Covid-19 report conducted within 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have taken the second dose 15 days prior to travel (14 days for Goa) are exempted.
Nagaland, on the other hand, requires a weeklong quarantine if only one vaccine dose is taken. A negative Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours of travel is also required.
Rules based on origin and destination
Several city and state administrations have imposed strict rules for travellers from certain parts, especially those with high Covid-19 caseloads. Darbhanga in Bihar requires a mandatory negative report no older than 72 hours for travellers from Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Punjab. Meanwhile Surat, in Gujarat, requires a negative report for all non-vaccinated travellers.
Officials at Srinagar airport in Jammu & Kashmir conduct Rapid Antigen Tests if travellers do not have a RT-PCR report, while Karnataka requires negative Covid-19 report no older than 72 hours for flyers from Maharashtra and Kerala.
Tamil Nadu, meanwhile, conducts mandatory tests for non-vaccinated flyers from Kerala. For non-vaccinated flyers from other states, a negative RT-PCR report conducted a maximum 72 hours before travel has been made mandatory. West Bengal has also made negative reports mandatory for all travellers from Pune, Mumbai, and Chennai and non-vaccinated travellers from other regions.
Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, has different rules for travellers from different regions, depending on where they land. Flyers arriving in Lucknow from Nagaland, Sikkim, Manipur, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra need to furnish a negative test report undertaken within 96 hours of travel.
All flyers to Agra will be subject to tests on arrival, while travellers to Varanasi or Bareilly are required to show a negative report no older than 72 hours. However, fully vaccinated travellers to Varanasi or Bareilly are exempt from this rule. Flyers to Kanpur from Delhi will also be required to undergo testing on arrival.
While the Centre has advised states to scrap mandatory RT-PCR reports for the fully vaccinated, some continue to insist on testing pre-arrival or on-arrival.