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Amid scare over new strains of COVID-19, Centre extends ban on international passenger flights till March 31

Extends ban on international passenger flights till March 31

New Delhi: Amid scare over new strains of the novel coronavirus, the central government on Friday extended the suspension of international commercial passenger flight services in India till March 31.

However, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in its order said that international flights will be allowed on select routes on a case-to-case basis, noting that the restriction will not apply to cargo flights and flights specifically approved by it.
“In partial modification of circular dated June 26, 2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity… regarding scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India till 23.59 pm IST of March 31, 2021,” the DGCA order said.

All scheduled international flight operations in India were suspended from March 23 last year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to break the chain of the highly contagious coronavirus.
However, special international flights have been allowed under the Vande Bharat Mission since May last year and under bilateral “air bubble” arrangements with select countries since July. India has formed air bubble pacts with several countries including the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan, and France, among others.

Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday also issued an order to extend the existing COVID-19 guidelines for surveillance, containment, and caution to remain in force up to March 31.

According to a press release, the Health Ministry asked the states to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination drive. It also advised taking strict containment measures followed within the containment zones.
“While there has been a substantial decline in the active and new COVID-19 cases, there is a need to maintain surveillance, containment, and caution so as to fully overcome the pandemic. States/Union Territories have also been advised to speed up the vaccination of the target population so as to break the chain of transmission and overcome the pandemic,” the MHA said.


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