It&rsquos been months since our suitcases were crammed into an inconspicuous corner of the house. Unbeknownst to us, a tumultuous journey was to follow.
Once COVID-19 permeated our borders, our extensive travel plans were rendered obsolescent. For months on end, we were compelled to condense our multi-faceted world into the limiting walls of our homes. Now, a silver lining seems to have emerged.
India has established transport bubbles with twenty three countries across the world. The good news doesn&rsquot just end there. Through an alliance between transport bubbles, the Vande Bharat Mission, and onward connecting flights, travellers can now access more than a hundred countries, bearing in mind their health and safety guidelines, without any impediments, or the perpetual reminder of the existence of a certain virus.
So go ahead, satiate that pent-up wanderlust.
What is a transport/air bubble
It is a bilateral travel agreement exclusive to two countries with the aim of resurrecting international air traffic amid a global pandemic, as regular international flights remain suspended, without the hassle of special permissions or restrictions.
India has struck up air bubble agreements with Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Tanzania, UAE, UK, Ukraine, and the USA as per recent updates.
According to a new set of rules issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, you can also access the following now Countries in the EU and the Schengen area, South America and Africa by hopping on an air bubble flight to France, Germany or the Netherlands. South America and Africa through bubble flights to Qatar or the UAE. Countries in Africa on bubble flights to Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan through bubble flights to Ukraine.
In continuation to the aforementioned information, it is important to note that, one, the mentioned air bubble countries are offering these services, and two, you are still expected to conform to your destination country&rsquos entry rules.
Here are some recently-added countries&rsquo access rules
Now, you can travel to Oman visa-free for a period of ten days. Recently, Oman Air, the country&rsquos flag carrier, announced seven flights between Muscat and Bangalore. As per the country&rsquos guidelines, travellers are supposed to take an RT-PCR test on arrival.
You have to register for it before departure (online). You&rsquore not expected to submit a negative COVID-19 test result, or quarantine however, until the former&rsquos results arrive, you will be asked to isolate at a tourist facility. You also have to cover for the costs of health insurance in the event that you contract the virus during your stay in Oman.
Along with the fundamental medical protocols in place, travellers, those with a valid visa, have to fill up a form, and submit a negative RT-PCR test that&rsquos issued not more than 72 hours prior to landing in Kathmandu.
According to India&rsquos air bubble arrangement with Ethiopia, a traveller can access any country in Africa as long as they hold a valid visa. When travelling to Ethiopia, you need to submit a negative PCR test for COVID-19 one taken a maximum of 120 hours before arrival.
Just like Ethiopia, travellers can access any country in Africa as long as they hold a valid visa. Passengers will undergo an enhanced screening for a COVID-19 infection. While you&rsquore not required to quarantine for fourteen days, you need to submit a negative test result to the authorities, and fill up a Traveller&rsquos Surveillance Form for the Port Health Authorities.
Along with a valid visa, you&rsquore supposed to carry an RT-PCR test one taken a maximum of 96 hours before departure. A fourteen-day quarantine-period is mandatory upon arrival. You&rsquore also expected to fill out a Traveller&rsquos Health Surveillance form on the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority&rsquos website before departure.