(Pakistan Point News - 25th Nov, 2020) From Krishnan Nayar NEW DELHI, 25th November, 2020 (WAM) – India is to extend the ban on scheduled international flights till the end of December, the Ministry of Home Affairs here announced today. The ban was to expire on November 30.
New "Guidelines for Surveillance, Containment and Caution" against the spread of COVID-19, said "international air travel of passengers only as permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs" will take to the skies throughout next month.
This would mean overseas repatriation flights of Indian citizens and foreign nationals in both directions and some special international flights sanctioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs. India suspended all air travel at the end of March, but domestic flights were resumed in a phased manner on 25th May. Scheduled international flights have, however, remained suspended with the exception of those under "bubble arrangements," which are travel corridors negotiated with individual countries.
The new guidelines permit states to impose local restrictions as required, including night curfews to aid the fight against the pandemic. State governments will also be allowed to restrict the number of people at social events to less than 100 and impose fines on people for not wearing masks in public places.
However, total lockdowns will require consultation with and prior permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Nor can states seal their borders. "There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries."
State governments have been advised to consider implementing staggered office timings in cities to prevent crowding and heavy vehicular traffic, which add to pollution. The new guidelines were issued one day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual meeting with the Chief Ministers of states with high incidence of COVID-19.