Kerala

Kerala expatriates hope that Gulf Cooperation Council countries will lift travel restrictions soon

File photo of Indian nationals step out of the Karipur airport after arriving by a special flight in Kozhikode in 2020. For passengers from India, the UAE authorities have put forth several conditions for the entry of residents, which includes two doses of UAE-approved vaccines.   | Photo Credit: PTI

With the United Arab Emirates (UAE) relaxing its entry permit of Indian resident visa holders to return to their jobs and families from Wednesday, expatriates stranded in Kerala due to travel restrictions hope that other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations may also soon follow suit in bringing in exemptions for residents.

Except Kuwait and the Sultanate of Oman, the other GCC nations have adopted some form of relaxations for residency visa holders. Currently, only Bahrain allows full exemptions. But tourist visas have not been approved yet.

Yasir Mundodan, regional head of Alhind Travels, said, at the same time, all the six countries allowed health workers to return to their destinations in the GCC nations. "Some have taken the transit route via Uzbekistan to reach Saudi Arabia," he said.

For passengers from India, the UAE authorities have put forth several conditions for the entry of residents, which includes two doses of UAE-approved vaccines.

Besides, all travellers have to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours before departure. Also, only QR-coded PCR test result certificates are accepted.

Further, all passengers must take a rapid PCR test four hours prior to flight departure as well as undergo another PCR test on arrival at the Dubai Airport.

Lack of PCR test facilities

However, the airports in Kerala, especially Calicut International Airport, are yet to have the PCR facility. "So, the passengers are finding it difficult to travel from north Kerala, " Mr. Mundodan said.

In Qatar, entry for Indians holding resident visas are allowed but they would have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a hotel. Likewise, Saudi Arabia has allowed entry for Indians but travellers would have to undergo quarantine in a third country that has not been included in the list of countries that have banned flights.

However, one of the biggest issues facing expatriates is the expiry of residency visa holders. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, several GCC nations had extended the validity of all visas, including visit visas, residency visas and entry permits.


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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 2:36:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-expatriates-hope-that-gulf-cooperation-council-countries-will-lift-travel-restrictions-soon/article34923410.ece

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