The US Government has finally lifted the travel ban which has been long imposed on Indians, despite complete vaccination. The ban was also applicable to travelers from Brazil, South Africa, and some parts of Europe. Visitors from these countries will now be allowed entry into the US upon providing a negative RT-PCR test that was taken 72 hours before starting their journey.
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The ban has been in place since April 30 in the wake of the lethal Delta variant. This blanket travel ban was imposed on Indian non-immigrant visa-holders along with their dependents and other business travelers.
Interestingly, despite this ban, there were some exemptions. Indians studying in the US on F-1 or M-1 visas were exempted from this ban immediately.
While the ban was only for 30 days initially, the US government renewed it each month for 30 days. Now that the vaccination levels have increased, the cases have improved hence prompting this lift.It is interesting to note that despite the ban, Indians found a way to work around these bans legally.
This is where the Maldives come into the picture. Not only the US, Canada too refused to admit Indians with a COVID test report which was administered in India, fearing that it could be doctored. This forced Indians to stopover in a third country in order to get a rapid test or RTPCR 72 hours before they traveled to Canada.
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The Maldives also happens to be one of the few nations to grant Indians visas on arrival. Since Indians can't fly to Canada or the US directly, they could come to a country with relatively fewer COVID cases and stay there for 14 days.
This time frame made a perfect opportunity for a relaxing vacation with an all-inclusive resort, easy access to entertainment, local sight-seeing under relaxed restrictions, and finally an RT PCR test that will let them enter these countries without a glitch.
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Countries like the Maldives which weren't too high on their list of top vacation points suddenly saw a surge in the numbers of Indian visitors. This win-win situation not only revived Maldives’ COVID -hit economy but also encouraged other countries to do something similar.
Countries with lower cases had started offering package deals to help these stranded visitors quarantine before reaching these countries. However, with the ban being lifted, it seems like the end of the Maldives gold rush.