Can people who have received both the doses of COVID-19 vaccine travel without RT-PCR tests? Sounds likely, and the government is considering the idea. This would make domestic travel hassle-free for fully-vaccinated passengers. Many states currently require an RT-PCR negative certificate.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that the discussion on the issue is underway among representatives of different ministries, including the Health Ministry.
"A joint team from several ministries and stakeholders, including the Health Department, are in discussion to take a final decision on allowing travelling by air without an RT-PCR test for those who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine," Minister of Civil Aviation (MoCA) Hardeep Singh Puri said.
The minister pointed out that health is the domain of states and to ask passengers for a negative RT-PCR report is solely the right of a particular state.
Such a mechanism is also being contemplated globally. However, India is not keen on a 'Vaccine Passport' currently. At the G7 countries' meeting, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan opposed vaccine passport at this juncture of the pandemic. "With vaccine coverage as a percentage of population in developing countries is still low compared to developed countries, such an initiative could prove to be highly discriminatory," he said.
Puri's hint comes at a time when domestic air travel fell to 19-20 lakh in May as compared to 57.3 lakh in April, according to a report by ratings agency ICRA. This drop is a sequential decline of 65-67 per cent. Air travel saw this dip due to the second wave of COVID-19 that limited travel to necessary travel, while business and leisure travel remained curtailed. While air traffic is likely to increase as cases fall, removal of RT-PCR negative report is likely to be an added incentive.
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