All travellers from India to the United Kingdom will now be considered unvaccinated, regardless of their vaccination status, according to the new guidelines by the country, and will have to go through multiple tests and a self-isolation period of 10 days. By Naina Atri
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According to the United Kingdom’s new visa regulations, which will come into effect on October 4, passengers from India travelling to the country must quarantine for 10 days, even if fully vaccinated. AstraZeneca’s Covishield is not recognised by the UK government, reports NDTV, which is worrying as now, Indians inoculated with the vaccine will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo quarantine.
Come October 4, and the UK’s ‘Traffic Light system’, which categorises countries into red, amber or green lists, in decreasing order of COVID-19 risk level, will be replaced with one red list of countries, reports Business Line. India was placed in the medium-risk amber list on August 8 and hadn’t been moved to the green category, which recognises a country’s vaccine. The new two-tier system essentially combines the amber and green lists, so that there’s just a red list and then the rest of the world.
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Though the UK has announced that the new system will ease entry, for India—whose people the UK will now recognise as unvaccinated—such is not the case. With the non-recognition, fully vaccinated Indians now require a pre-departure test, a self-isolation period for 10 days, another test before or on day two, and one more on or after day eight. The period can be shortened by paying for a privately conducted COVID-19 test on day five, reports Times of India.
Because of this I have pulled out of a debate at the @cambridgeunion &out of launch events for the UK edition of my book #TheBattleOfBelonging (published there as #TheStruggleForIndiasSoul). It is offensive to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine. The Brits are reviewing! https://t.co/YEVy3Ez5dj
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 20, 2021
This move has sparked criticism as travel plans of Indians—which include students, business people and tourists—are now hindered. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called these new rules ‘bizarre’ and ‘racist’. MP Shashi Tharoor also joined in on the critique and tweeted that enforcing quarantine of fully vaccinated Indians is ‘offensive’, reports The Wire.
Absolutely bizarre considering Covishield was originally developed in the UK and The Serum Institute, Pune has supplied to that country too! This smacks of racism. https://t.co/GtKOzMgydf
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) September 20, 2021
On Tuesday, India said that it is of ‘mutual interest’ for the two countries to work out these issues, reports NDTV. A spokesperson of the British High Commission said that the UK is committed to engaging with India and that the former is working to safely open up international travel when it becomes ‘practicable’.
The UK has long been slammed for its international travel regulations and such is the case this time around, too. However, the country continues to hold that the two-tier system, which is expected to stay in place at least till the end of 2021, will reduce the burden and costs of getting the compulsory RT-PCR tests.