Vaccine certification issue: India decides to impose reciprocal action on U.K. citizens

British nationals will also have to undergo mandatory quarantine at home or in destination address for 10 days after arrival

India on Friday imposed reciprocal quarantine measures on citizens of the United Kingdom. Sources said, the new regulations will enforce a 10-day quarantine on all British nationals in the way that the U.K. currently enforces similar quarantine measures on fully vaccinated  Indian nationals. The new measures will come into effect from October 4. The development indicates  India-U.K. negotiation over the U.K.’s 10-day mandatory quarantine requirement has broken down.

According to the new regulations, all British nationals arriving in India from the UK, irrespective of their vaccination status, will have to undertake, pre-departure COVID-19 RT-PCR test within 72 hours before travel, followed by similar tests upon arrival at the Indian airport which is to be followed by another RTPCR test on the 8th day after arrival in India. That apart, the British travellers to India will have to be in “mandatory quarantine at home or in the destination address for 10 days after arrival in India”. The deepening dispute regarding vaccination certificates and the quarantine period has cast a shadow on expected high level visits from London to India.

Sources explained that the move will not affect the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) staying in the UK with permits but is likely to affect PIOs and OCI-card holders as they may be citizens of the UK. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had first mentioned the possibility of imposing reciprocal measures on  September 21 as the UK had not relaxed the quarantine requirement till then.

Noteworthy that there is no tourist flow from the UK to India at the moment as India has not  restarted the tourist visa because of the pandemic. However, it is understood that the Indian move is being perceived as "unexpected" by the British side which had witnessed some “positive progress” in the dialogue over relaxing the UK’s quarantine requirement for Indian citizens. Informed Indian sources have however told The Hindu that the U.K. can make the necessary adjustments in its policy by October 4.

The Indian announcement comes days after the UK-recognised Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India but retained the 10-day quarantine period for fully vaccinated travellers from India which intensified the rift between the two sides. The UK had moved India from the ‘Red List’ to the ‘Amber List’ on August 8 reopening tourist visa for Indian travellers but maintained that the 10-day quarantine period would remain in place. 

British sources had earlier said that there were no issues related to the Covishield vaccine but there are "technical difficulties" that were preventing the UK from connecting with the Indian side which is a requirement for verifying vaccination certificates.

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