With the new travel rules in place from 11 October, Indian travellers who are now fully vaccinated with any UK approved vaccines, including AstraZeneca’s Covishield, will not require quarantine upon arrival. Covishield was included by the UK in the list of recognised vaccines after an uproar in India.
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis tweeted on Thursday announcing the new decision and added: “Thanks to Indian government for close cooperation over last month.”
The rules were changed for other countries as well, including Turkey and Ghana, Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announced.
“I’m also making changes so travellers visiting England have fewer entry requirements, by recognising those with fully-vax status from 37 new countries and territories including India, Turkey and Ghana, treating them the same as UK fully vax passengers,” Mr Shapps tweeted.
The change comes after a long row of negotiations and allegations as previously the UK government only recognised vaccination certificates from a handful of countries like the US, European nations, and UK-administered vaccine programmes. This led to speculations about the UK’s distrust of Indian vaccination certificates and India-made vaccines.
The rules were dubbed “discriminatory” and even “colonial” by many in India, especially since the majority of Indians were administered Covishield, an India-manufactured version of AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also exported to many countries under the Covax alliance.
The British high commissioner earlier said the two sides have been meeting over the technical specifications of India’s CoWin portal — a government-managed website to book appointments and generate vaccine certifications. He announced: “Neither side raised technical concerns with each other’s certification process
Delhi imposed mandatory quarantine rules on British nationals travelling to India in what was largely dubbed as “reciprocal action” by Indian media outlets that the Indian government warned of earlier when the rules were announced.
The rules imposed included a 10-day home quarantine period, mandatory testing before and upon arrival and one after seven days of quarantine, irrespective of vaccination status. However, the rules did not differ much from what was already in practice in different states of India.
“The decision was taken after close technical cooperation between our ministries taking public health factors into account,” a British High Commission spokesperson said in a statement to news agency PTI on Thursday.