Fully vaccinated people are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, and as such can avoid quarantine and COVID testing during travel, says the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) and the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization in India (NTAGI). The recommendations were made during the 16th meeting of NTAGI and NEGVAC in late May.
Dr NK Arora, chairman of the COVID-19 Working Group, told ToI there is no need for testing before or after travel, or self-quarantine after domestic trips – interstate or within states. “Fully vaccinated individuals can also avoid testing before leaving India for international trips, unless required by the destination country, and don’t need to self-quarantine after their return to India,” he said. “We also recommended that fully vaccinated travelers, who had contracted COVID-19 in the past, and who later recovered and are asymptomatic, can avoid quarantine and testing while traveling within the country.” Dr Arora said fully vaccinated refers to those for whom it has been at least two weeks since the second dose.
Jyoti Mayal, president of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), said most states are unaware of these recommendations and continue to impose restrictions. “The Centre should issue an order to have them implemented at the state level, at the earliest, to spare travelers the difficulties.” She highlighted that almost every state, now, has its own policy regarding RT-PCR tests and quarantine.
“As TAAI, we have requested the Centre to have a uniform policy for domestic travel. States such as Maharashtra, West Bengal and others should not ask for RT-PCR tests from fully vaccinated travelers. As international borders are opening, we definitely need ease of travel. This would also improve vaccine coverage in the country.”
In regards to international travel, the CDC on its portal says it poses additional risks – even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. “The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new or concerning variants, differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling,” it said.
The CDC recommends for people during travel to wear a mask over their nose and mouth on airplanes, buses, trains and other forms of public transport.