Within 48 hours of making COVID-19 negative report mandatory for people entering Maharashtra from four states across the country, the Uddhav Thackeray government on Wednesday made an exemption to the rule.
On Monday (November 23), the Maharashtra government had made it mandatory for those seeking to enter the state from of Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa to carry RT-PCR negative reports for COVID-19. Amid the rising cases of COVID-19, the Maharashtra government has taken the step.
For those flying in from these four states, the RT-PCR sample collection has to be done within 72 hours of the scheduled time of landing at airports in Maharashtra, a government order had said. In case of journey by trains, the collection of RT-PCR samples should have been done within 96 hours before the scheduled arrival in Maharashtra, the notification issued by Maharashtra chief secretary Sanjay Kumar said.
However, on Wednesday the Thackeray government has exempted the RT-PCR test for all in-flight and cockpit crew and cabin crew of all airlines at all airports in Maharashtra. All the cockpit and cabin crew has to carry valid identity cards. The rule, however, applies to all the other people travelling to Maharashtra.
The state government has received a request from Air India stating that it is operating Vande Bharat flights and multiple cargo flights in and out of Maharashtra on a regular basis, an official order read. This involves a large number of flights and cockpit crew to travel into Maharashtra from various states to either operate or be positioned for flight duties on a daily basis, added the order.
However, as per the guidelines of the state, COVID-19 RT-PCR test has been made compulsory for all persons arriving at the airports which leads to delays in scheduling of flights.
“In the light of the above, it is stated that henceforth, all on-duty cabin crew and cockpit crew of all airlines carrying valid identity cards be exempted from RTPCR test at all airports in Maharashtra subject to following of all necessary COVID related protocols by the respective airlines in the said regard,” stated the order.
On November 23, the order had said that there will be mandatory screening at border check posts for people coming by road. Passengers without symptoms will be allowed entry. Road travellers with symptoms shall have the option of turning back and going to their home to recuperate, it had said.
The four states – Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa – have been reporting high caseload of the coronavirus disease, an official said. People with COVID-19 symptoms seeking to enter the state from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa would be turned back, the order said.
The order stipulated that all domestic passengers traveling from airports in NCR Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa shall carry RT-PCR negative test reports with them before boarding and show them to the teams at the arrival airport in Maharashtra. “The Airports Authority of India is requested to check the report before allowing passengers to board the flight, the government order said.
The state government on Monday came out with revised standard operating procedures on preventive measures to check the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Air travellers not having the RT-PCR test reports shall compulsorily undergo RT-PCR test at the concerned airports at their own cost, the government said in the order.
“The airport shall arrange (for) the testing centres and charge the passengers directly for testing,” the order said. Airport operators will allow passengers to go home only after they undertake the test, the government said. Contact information and address shall be collected by the airport operator from all the passengers who undergo tests at the airport to facilitate contact in case the test report comes out positive, it said.
“Passengers whose report comes out positive will be contacted and treated as per the existing protocol,” the order said. Similarly, passengers travelling to Maharashtra by trains originating or having halt/stop at stations in Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa shall carry with them their respective RT-PCR negative test report before they decide to enter Maharashtra, the government said.
“Passengers not having the RT-PCR test negative report shall be screened for symptoms and body temperatures at the alighting railway stations.
Passengers without symptoms would be allowed to go home,” the government said. Railway passengers showing symptoms shall be segregated and made to undergo antigen test. Passengers whose antigen test report will be negative will be allowed to go home, the government said. It said that passengers not testing/found COVID-19 positive, shall be sent to COVID-19 care centres and the cost shall be borne by the commuters themselves.
On road travel, the government said that collectors of land border districts shall make arrangements to ensure that passengers from NCR of Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa are tested for symptoms including body temperature.
“The passengers without symptoms will be allowed entry. Passengers with symptoms shall have the option of turning back and going to their home to recuperate, the government said in the order.
Those showing symptoms shall be segregated and made to undergo antigen test and will be allowed to travel further into Maharashtra if the (antigen test) report is negative, the government said. It said that passengers not testing/found COVID-19 positive shall be sent to COVID-19 care centres and the commuters will have to bear the cost.