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COVID: India reopens borders to foreign tourists

November 15, 2021

It is the first time India has opened its borders to foreign travelers since imposing a strict lockdown in March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

 Visitors take slefies with the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, Sept. 23, 2020
India's daily infections have dipped, and total active COVID-19 cases stand at their lowest in 17 monthsImage: Xinhua/picture alliance

India opened its borders to vaccinated tourists from over 90 countries on Monday.

The Health Ministry published revised guidelines for international travelers to streamline the process of tourists entering the country.

It said foreign tourists entering India would have to be fully vaccinated or test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their flight. They would also have to follow COVID protocols at all times.

Which tourists can now enter India?

While some travelers would have to undergo COVID-19 tests on arrival, people from certain countries that have agreements with India for mutual recognition of vaccine certificates can enter India without taking a test upon arrival.

This means that travelers from several countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and most European nations, can pass through airports across Indian cities without taking a test.

Though India allowed entry to foreign travelers on chartered flights last month, this is the first time the country has opened its borders to those arriving on commercial flights in months.

India locked down its borders March 2020, and hasn't issued foreign visas since. Now, it plans to encourage travelers to visit the country by issuing 500,000 free visas through next March. 

India to stop issuing visas

What is the COVID situation in India?

With more than 35 million reported infections, India is the second-worst-hit country in the world, after the US. However, 

India's daily cases have fallen significantly , with infections hovering at just above 10,000 for over a month.

Nearly 79% of India's adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, while 38% has been fully vaccinated.

rm/rt (AP, Reuters)