Travel Advisory issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

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With the World Health Organization recognizing COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the Government of India, through its ministries, has issued multiple advisories/guidelines to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak in India. We have consolidated and set out the key guidelines issued by the Government of India as on March 16, 2020:

Travel Restrictions

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a Consolidated Travel Advisory for Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on March 11, 2020 specifying, inter alia, the following restrictions:

•     Visa Suspension

All existing visas (except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas) have been suspended till April 15, 2020. Further, the visa free travel facility that is granted to persons who hold Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards has been kept in abeyance till April 15, 2020. These suspensions came into effect from 12:00 a.m. (GMT) on March 13, 2020 at the port of departure. OCI card holders already in India have been permitted to stay in India without any time restriction.

•     Extension of visas of foreigners in India

Visas of foreigners already in India shall remain valid and they may contact the immigration authorities module for extension/conversion etc. of their visa or grant of any consular service.

•     Quarantine and other requirements

–   From 12:00 a.m. (GMT) on March 13, 2020, all travellers entering India (including Indian nationals) who are travelling from or have visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15, 2020, shall be mandatorily quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days from the date of their arrival.

–    With effect from 12:00 am (GMT) March 10, 2020, passengers traveling from/having visited Italy or Republic of Korea and desirous of entering India will need a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the designated laboratories authorized by the health authorities of these countries.

–    Incoming travelers, including Indian nationals, are advised to avoid non-essential travel and can be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days on their arrival in India.

–    Indian nationals have further strongly been advised to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany.

As an aside, the Government of India has issued an Additional Travel Advisory on March 16, 2020 stating, inter alia, the below restrictions

–   From 12:00 am (GMT) March 18, 2020 passengers coming from/transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait shall be mandatorily quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.

–   From 12:00 am (GMT) March 18, 2020, travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom to India is prohibited. Airlines have been communicated to not board passengers from these nations to India and enforce this at the port of initial departure.

•     Self Imposed Quarantine

All incoming international passengers returning to India should self-monitor their health and follow required do’s and dont’s as detailed by the Government. As per the Travel Advisory issued by the Government of India on March 11, 2020, passengers with travel history to Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore are required to undergo self-imposed quarantine for a period of 14 days from the date of their arrival.

Instructions to Employers

As per the Travel Advisory issued by the Government of India on March 11, 2020, employers are required to allow employees who have travelled to China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany to work from home during the self-imposed quarantine period.

State Specific Updates

Karnataka

i.    In addition to the recent notification that was issued by the Labour Department of Karnataka, the Government of Karnataka has now notified the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19 Regulations, 2020. These regulations, inter alia, provide that any person with a history of travel in the past 14 days to a country or area where COVID-19 has been reported must:

a.     Report to the nearest government hospital or call the toll-free helpline; and
b.     Isolate themselves at home for a period of 14 days even if they do not have any symptoms.

These regulations also state that the prior permission of the Department of Heath and Family Welfare is required for any person/institution/organization to circulate any information regarding COVID-19. Further, in the event that a person fails to adhere to these regulations, such person may be punished in accordance with the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

ii.     The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike via circular dated March 13, 2020, has inter alia advised/mandate the following:

a.      Conferences and workshops which involve large gatherings are to be cancelled; and
b.    Information Technology/Bio Technology establishments have been advised to allow their employees to work from home and avoid international travel.

Telangana

i.     The Government of Telangana has recently issued Standard Operating Protocol for IT Companies/IT Parks in light of the Covid-19 outbreak (“SOP”). The SOP, inter alia, provides:

a.     Preventive Measures at the Workplace

–    Make sure that the workplace is clean and hygienic – surfaces need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. It is further advised that biometric access should be disabled to prevent finger to finger spread and access cards should be used.
–      Promote regular and thorough handwashing by employees.
–     Screen all visitors for COVID-19 symptoms.
–     To the extent possible, discourage large gatherings and encourage the use of technology for meetings.
–    Display posters shared by the Coordination Committee to spread awareness regarding COVID-19.

b.     Employer duties

The SOP provides three scenarios in which an employer is required to take action, such as allowing employees to work from home, requiring that they get tested, and check if any other employees display symptoms of COVID-19. The three scenarios are (i) an employee returning from abroad; (ii) an employee found to have symptoms of COVID-19; and (iii) an person found to have COVID-19 symptoms in the same building, IT Park or in the proximity.

c.     Private Hospitals Approved by the Health Department

The SOP also provides a list of private hospitals that have been approved by the health department to provide isolation facilities.

Haryana

i.     The Government of Haryana has notified the Haryana Epidemic Disease, COVID-19 Regulations, 2020. These regulations, inter alia, provide that any person with a history of travel in the past 14 days to a country or area where COVID-19 has been reported must:

a.     Report to the nearest government hospital or call the toll-free helpline; and
b.     Isolate themselves at home for a period of 14 days even if they do not have any symptoms.

These regulations also state that the prior permission of the Department of Heath and Family Welfare is required for any person/institution/organization to circulate any information regarding COVID-19. Further, in the event that a person fails to adhere to these regulations, such person may be punished in accordance with the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Maharashtra

i.     The Government of Maharashtra has notified the Maharashtra COVID-19 Regulations, 2020. These regulations, inter alia, provide that any person with a history of travel in the past 14 days to a country or area where COVID-19 has been reported must:

a.     Report to the State Control Room or to the State Surveillance Officer; and
b.     Isolate themselves at home for a period of 14 days even if they do not have any symptoms.

These regulations also state that the prior permission of the Department of Heath and Family Welfare is required for any person/institution/organization to circulate any information regarding COVID-19. Further, in the event that a person fails to adhere to these regulations, such person may be punished in accordance with the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Delhi

i.     The Government of Delhi has notified the Delhi Epidemic Disease, Covid-19 Regulations, 2020. These regulations, inter alia, provide that any person with a history of travel in the past 14 days to a country or area where COVID-19 has been reported must:

a.     If they develop symptoms – Report to the State Control Room or the District Control Room; and
b.      If they are asymptomatic – Isolate themselves at home for a period of 14 days even if they do not have any symptoms.

These regulations also state that the prior permission of the Department of Heath and Family Welfare is required for any person/institution/organization to circulate any information regarding COVID-19. Further, in the event that a person fails to adhere to these regulations, such person may be punished in accordance with the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

As an aside, the Government of Delhi has also issued an Order prohibiting conferences and seminars with more than 50 people.

Tamil Nadu

The Government of Tamil Nadu has notified the Tamil Nadu COVID-19 Regulations, 2020. These regulations, inter alia, provide that any person with a history of travel in for a period not less than 28 days to a country or area where COVID-19 has been reported must:

a.     Report to the nearest government hospital or call the toll-free helpline; and
b.     Isolate themselves at home for a period of 14 days even if they do not have any symptoms.

These regulations also state that the prior permission of the Department of Heath and Family Welfare is required for any person/institution/organization to circulate any information regarding COVID-19. Further, in the event that a person fails to adhere to these regulations, such person may be punished in accordance with the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Odisha

The Government of Odisha has via letter dated March 11, 2020 postponed all official tours and visits abroad of government employees, employees of PSUs and all government owned institutions until further orders. If for unavoidable reasons the travel cannot be postponed, Government approval with adequate justification may be sought.

Date:March 17, 2020