Muscat: Many passengers planning to fly out of Oman on holiday to mark the New Year are cancelling their trips, owing to fears of new restrictions around Omicron that if brought in, could leave them stuck overseas.
With several states in India implementing additional protocols for passengers arriving from overseas, travel agents in Oman have seen people cancel flight bookings made for non-essential travel.
“Governments across the world are reimposing restrictions because of the re-emergence of COVID-19,” said Venkat Perumal, sales manager for Go First airlines. “The Indian government has requested all state governments to take appropriate protocols based on the evolving situation, and that has prompted states to take stringent actions, including institutional quarantine for all international travellers.”
“The travel industry is closely monitoring the situation, as travellers are hesitant to make their travel plans at this juncture,” he added. “Some passengers have already changed their plans or cancelled bookings to avoid travel inconvenience at their destinations.”
Passengers from Dubai who fly to Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, must undergo seven-day home quarantine. Tamil Nadu has brought in mandatory domestic quarantine for all overseas arrivals, while also randomly testing 10 per cent of passengers.
International passengers travelling onto Karnataka from both Kerala and Maharashtra are required to provide a PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival in that state. Kerala will screen 20 per cent of passengers from countries not deemed ‘at-risk’, with test subjects to be selected at random.
At the time of writing, ‘at-risk’ countries include South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong, and Israel. All countries in Europe, including the UK, are also deemed ‘at-risk’.
International arrivals landing in Lucknow and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh will be contacted by phone during the first seven days of their arrival, to monitor their health. A COVID-19 hospital with isolation facilities is also to be earmarked for those who test positive. Passengers arriving in Odisha are also required to undergo a strict seven-day home quarantine. Teams will visit such passengers to check on their health and inquire as to whether further testing is required.
Other countries have also been tightening their protocols in the wake of rising Omicron cases. Passengers travelling to the United States are required to show documentation of a negative test result taken within one day of the flight’s departure to the United States before boarding. Only fully vaccinated passengers will be allowed to board.
Passengers travelling to the UK are also now required to take a PCR test two days before their arrival in the country, book a post-landing PCR test which will be taken on the second day of their stay in the UK, and self-isolate until their results come back negative. Passengers are required to fill in a form that confirms their place of stay while in the UK.
Similarly, those flying to Canada must also pre-register for testing on arrival, and have plans drawn up for a place to quarantine, in case they test positive for COVID.
“People are scared of travelling right now, there is a bit of worry among them, but what we have seen is that this is only among a small section of people,” said Faiyaz Khan, general manager for Travel Point. “The vast majority are not concerned about Omicron and are going ahead with their plans. There is still good demand for people wishing to travel overseas to the US, UK and other foreign destinations.”
“We also continue to receive strong booking numbers for people looking to travel back home to places like India and Pakistan,” he added. “In fact, the demand for flight tickets in November of 2021 was higher than it was in November 2019.”