KHALEEJ TIMES, Thursday, Jan 13, 2022 | Jamada Al-Aakhirah 10, 1443
UAE-India flights: Does 7-day quarantine rule mean expats can't travel for short trips?
Indian expatriates in the UAE are seeking clarity from authorities on
quarantine procedures for those who wish to take shorter trips home.
Residents and travel agents speaking to Khaleej Times said that after the Indian
government made seven-day home quarantine mandatory for all international
travellers to India, several of them have ditched or put their travel plans on
However, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which mandated the
revised travel regulations on Tuesday, January 11, has yet to clarify quarantine
or travel regulations for those making short trips.
The Ministry updated rules given the rise in Covid-19 cases of the Omicron
Anandita Dutta, an English teacher at a Sharjah school, had planned an emergency
trip to India on Wednesday as her mother back home in Calcutta is unwell. "My
mother is presently living with my older sister, who has to travel to Mumbai in
a day or two. The plan was that I take over her care during her travel."
Unfortunately, Dutta had to cancel her plans due to the new quarantine
regulations. "I was going to travel Thursday night and return in time for school
opening on Monday. Since it is very close to exam season and I cannot take time
off work. My sister had to scrap her plans as well.
"It would be good if the Ministry provides clarification and exemptions for
those wishing to travel on emergency," Dutta said.
The change in weekend days in the UAE had also made short trips appealing to
"Sharjah residents enjoy extended weekends. I had planned to travel to Kerala
for my niece's wedding on January 20. I cannot make it to the wedding now
because I cannot take ten days off work. Moreover, I would have to stay in
quarantine for seven days; it is not feasible," said Gautam Menon, an ad
Moreover, travel agents have confirmed that there has been a substantial drop in
demand for UAE- India travel.
Surendranath Menon, operations manager of Equator Travel Management, said,
"UAE-India travel demand has come down by 80 per cent. We projected that it'd
come back up; however, people will continue to drop their plans if the
restrictions continue. Most people go with fewer leaves of about two weeks. If
half the time goes in quarantine, it makes no sense to them."
Some agents said January 15 to March 15 is the off-peak season for UAE- India
"Families, except in case of emergencies, do not travel during this time,"
explained Afi Ahmed, the managing director of Smart Travels told Khaleej Times.
"We are noticing that those who wish to travel will be travelling. I've been in
Kerala for a few weeks now. Agents, as well as travellers, are keeping a close
eye on the trends. For example, as soon as you arrive at the airport, health
officials offer strict instructions to all passengers to stay at home for seven
days," said Ahmed.
He added, "The ground reality is that many passengers are not abiding by the
rules either. I can see that many are leaving their homes a day or two after
arriving. Since the symptoms of the Omicron variant are mild, many in Kerala
treat the disease lightly. For them, it is like the common flu."
Raheesh Babu, the group chief operating officer of Musafir.com, an online travel
agency, said, "Demand for travel to India has dropped. Ticket prices have gone
down considerably. Tickets are available for as cheap as Dh 200. Currently,
demand in the India-UAE sector is high. Those who had travelled for a vacation
to India are returning to UAE, and many are also travelling to see Dubai Expo
He added, "In the UAE- India sector, the most demand is from blue-collared
workers and supermarket salesmen who go on long leaves. Moreover, those
currently in the UAE on visit visas are changing their status within the
country. The demand for such services is high.
"The main challenges at the moment are that the RT-PCR test results are taking
time, and there is no clarity on those who want short term travel. Business
travel has suffered. For example, those who suffer death or medical emergency in
the family take the risk and travel," explained Babu.