Exactly a year ago, the world was battling the devastating second wave of COVID-19. While governments and national health authorities across different nations have relaxed several restrictions, are we finally heading back to pre-pandemic normalcy?
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For some of us, life may have snapped back to 'normal' after vaccination drives and the decreasing number of coronavirus cases around us. Almost every country has reopened its borders and is slowly heading towards the new normal.
However, for so many others, growing used to the idea of living differently seems alien. For people who lost their loved ones to the virus, or those unfortunate ones who lost their livelihood during the pandemic, it may be nearly impossible to jump back to how it was before.
Many people are still wary of embracing the old lifestyle - maskless outings, travelling by a packed flight to meet elderly parents, meeting people in a bar, etc. are something that many people are nervous about. While the debate continues, the world is set to open once again, albeit slowly and very guardedly.
Like many other countries, tourism took the greatest hit during the pandemic. According to the National Council of Applied Economic Research, Indian tourism is not likely to return to the pre-pandemic levels, not at least until 2026.
From March 2020 onwards, India saw a series of lockdowns and restricted movement to curb the spread of the virus. Wearing a mask became mandatory, along with many social distancing norms.
Many states imposed a number of restrictions and health screenings including a mandatory negative COVID-19 RTPCR test report, self-declaration form and temperature screening.
With the availability of the vaccine, proof of vaccination became a mandatory requirement while travelling, as well as visiting public places such as malls, shops and salons.
As of now, air travel in India needs to follow COVID-19 rules including social distancing, sanitising and wearing masks at all times. While many states have removed the mask mandate, taking precautions is still important.
The Indian government removed all the COVID-19 restrictions from March 31, 2022, onwards. However, the use of face masks and hand hygiene is still required in many places.
At Indian airports, fully vaccinated arrivals are exempted from providing a negative RT-PCR test report, however, some states in the country require a negative test report upon arrival irrespective of the vaccination status.
An overwhelming majority of nations either shut down their borders or imposed strict entry requirements upon visitors. While domestic COVID-19 measures have been lifted by most, some rules remain in place for foreigners and tourists.
India resumed international flight operation from March 27 after a hiatus of almost two years. Several countries with rigid entry restrictions such as Australia, Greece, Canada have relaxed their entry procedure and are hopeful to boost tourism again.
While you finally start preparing for your long awaited trip, make sure to check the latest requirements such as web check-in, RT-PCR tests, e-pass requirements, self declaration and others.
Since these rules may change, it's important to stay up to date. Better yet, opt for an international travel insurance plan for your trip as soon as your plans are set so that you don't need to worry about unfortunate cancellations or delays.
One noticeable change in several countries was the mandatory travel health insurance plan with COVID-19 coverage. This cover should protect the traveller from many expenses in case they get infected with the coronavirus while on their trip abroad.
EU nations have abolished several COVID-19 measures, however, many of them continue to impose the less stringent rules and need you to meet these requirements:
As you may already know, Schengen countries need all the visitors to have a mandatory travel health insurance to cover any emergency medical or other expenses while you’re in their country. Nowadays, many travel insurance companies in India also offer overseas travel plans with COVID-19 coverage.
While governments around the world seem to have lifted many restrictions, the emergence of new variants such as Omicron and new COVID variant XE indicate that precaution is to be taken at all times. For this reason, irrespective of relaxed norms, make sure to keep wearing masks in public and be covered under travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage. This will keep you safe at all times, in India or abroad.