The Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that the ban on commercial international flights will be extended till April 14 as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 in India. In his most recent address on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown that will be observed throughout the country.
Ahead of this, the central government had moved to harden India’s borders implementing a travel ban that went into effect from March 22, banning the arrival of all international flights for a week.
India’s decision to stop international flights and isolate itself from overseas visitors followed similar decisions taken by governments in Australia and New Zealand to stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
The government had earlier already banned flights from several high-risk nations, including those from the European Union, till March 31.
Covid-19, which has infected over 2 lakh people across the globe and led to the deaths of over 9,000, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to sources, the earlier ban was suggested to the government by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Among the other containment measures announced is an advisory to all citizens above 65 and children below 10 years of age to remain at home.
The government has also asked the railways and the civil aviation ministries to suspend all concessional travel, except for students, patients and for persons belonging to the Divyang category, to dissuade travel and encourage social distancing.
States have also been told to advise private companies to enforce work-from-home policies for employees to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus. Several states have already introduced strict containment measures, including suspending exams, shutting down schools, colleges, malls, movie theatres, gyms, spas and restaurants.
The central government has also instituted a work-from-home policy for its employees. According to an order issued by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on Thursday, heads of department (HoDs) have been asked to ensure that 50% of Group B and C employees are required to attend office every day, and the remaining 50% staff should be instructed to work from home.