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Last updated October 27, 2020
As India continues to wage war against an unchronicled deadly virus, down South, the Land of the Nizams or the City of Pearls, Hyderabad in the state of Telangana, has seen a decline in the number of cases recently. As of October 26, the state of Telangana has recorded a total of 232,671 confirmed cases and 1,315 deaths.
While Hyderabad still continues to record a substantial number of cases every day, the recovery rate has shot up to 90.77%. Various places have opened up in a phased manner following social distancing norms. Read along to know in details about traveling to Hyderabad, quarantine regulations, and reopening in Hyderabad.
Can I travel to Hyderabad?
Indian nationals and citizens currently abroad
Since the inception of the Vande Bharat mission, the Indian Government has repatriated Indian nationals stuck in several parts of the world. Up until October 26, as many as 2.85 million citizens have been repatriated from foreign lands via various modes.
So, if you are an Indian citizen, you can enter the country through Hyderabad without much hassle.
With international travel of more than 2.85 million people facilitated till now under Vande Bharat Mission & more than 15 million domestic travellers, India’s civil aviation sector flies high.
Phase-7 of VBM begins 29 Oct with more destinations, flights & bubble arrangements. pic.twitter.com/meQuy4vIkq
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) October 26, 2020
If you are a foreign national but an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cardholder, you can also travel to Hyderabad.
OCI cardholder minor children whose parents are Indian nationals, OCI cardholders married couples where one of the partners is an Indian national, and students whose at least one parent is either an Indian national or OCI cardholder will face no restriction to enter Hyderabad.
Foreigners with valid visas in certain categories
In addition, a few select categories of foreigners can also travel to India, as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. This includes foreign businessmen on business visas (excluding B-3 Visa for sports), foreign healthcare professionals, engineers, technicians, managerial, and design specialists on having the recognized invitation from Indian facilities, among others.
Foreigners married to Indians, dependents of foreign diplomats, and foreign nationals stuck in neighboring countries who wish to return to their country through India can also travel to Hyderabad. Visitors for all other employment purposes and their dependent family members on Dependent visas and Indian origin foreigners who need to travel for family emergencies in the country will also be allowed entry in Hyderabad.
Anyone who falls under those categories needs to obtain a new business visa or employment visa from Indian posts abroad. Those who already have long-term valid visas for multiple entry purposes would have to re-validate them.
A more recent release, dated October 21, now permits all foreigners to travel to Hyderabad and the rest of India with valid visas except for tourist visas. Nepal and Bhutan nationals can travel to Hyderabad from any other third country.
Air bubble flights at Hyderabad Airport
India currently has bilateral travel bubble arrangements with 18 countries, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, and the US. Regular two-way flights continue to flying between Hyderabad and some of these countries such as Doha, Dubai, Sharjah, and London under this arrangement as the Vande Bharat mission now operates into the sixth phase. The next phase will start on October 29.
Under this agreement, if you hold any valid visa issued by the Indian Mission for any of the previously mentioned categories, you can travel to Hyderabad from outside the country. However, for tourism purposes, entry is still restricted as scheduled commercial flights still remain suspended. More such agreements are underway with countries like Australia, Thailand, Italy, New Zealand, etc.
Airlines currently operating frequent flights to and from Hyderabad international airport include Cathay Pacific, Air Arabia, Etihad, Air India, Air India Express, Air Asia, Oman Air, Alliance Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Vistara, GoAir, IndiGo, British Airways, FlyDubai, Emirates, and others.
Do I need to quarantine after I reach Hyderabad?
For international passengers
Thermal screening at the airport by the Airport Health Official (APHO) is obligatory for all arriving passengers. In symptomatic cases, health authorities would decide what quarantine and testing requirements are to be implemented next. Other asymptomatic passengers can proceed towards their quarantine stay.
Per the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs, all international passengers landing at the GHIAL (GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd.) must go into obligatory seven-day institutional quarantine. A week-long home quarantine with self-monitoring should ensue next. Passengers have to bear the cost of the institutional quarantine, and before confirming their flight booking, they would also need to sign an undertaking for the same.
Compelling reasons for human distress are valid for exemption from mandatory paid institutional quarantine in Hyderabad. such as pregnancy, severe illness, or death of a family member. Passengers who receive exemptions can do home quarantine for two weeks instead of quarantining in a facility. Travelers accompanied by children below the age of ten are also eligible. Applications are accepted on the online portal of newdelhiairport.in, at least 72 hours before boarding.
Travelers will also be exempted from mandatory institutional quarantine if they can produce an RT-PCR test report on arrival. The test can not be any older than 96 hours. You must also upload the documents online with a declaration of the test report’s authenticity.
From August 30, the state government further relaxed the quarantine norms stating that all international business travelers can also apply for institutional or home quarantine exemption now. However, they must be returning back within four days apart from producing a negative RT-PCR certificate for the same on arrival.
Even if travelers apply for exemption, it is mandatory to have the Arogya Setu app installed on mobile phones.
— RGIA Hyderabad (@RGIAHyd) August 29, 2020
For domestic passengers
If you are arriving in Hyderabad from other states or Union Territories in India, you neither need to undergo institutional quarantine nor stay in home quarantine, provided you are asymptomatic on arrival.
Symptomatic travelers would be isolated at the airport, and health officials would escort them to medical facilities for testing and isolation requirements as per the protocol.
What’s open in Hyderabad now?
In Hyderabad, Telangana, containment zones are under stringent lockdown till October 31. In the rest of the places, several services have restarted operations under Unlock 5.0, and more are set to reopen from October 15 under revised Unlock 5.0 guidelines.
Reopening of schools and colleges
Amidst rising concerns about students’ academic progress and mental well-being, the Ministry of Home Affairs has given a green signal to the reopening of schools throughout the country from September 21. Unlike regular classes, this is a partial reopening of schools for senior classes (standards 9 to 12) on a voluntary basis for doubt clearing sessions only.
Schools in Hyderabad and other places in Telangana had been open in September following these guidelines but only with meager attendance. And now, with the center’s announcement of reopening of physical classes in schools from October 15, the State Education Ministry is set to take a final call on dates and SOPs for reopening after discussions with concerned authorities.
As per Unlock 5.0 guidelines, colleges in Hyderabad remain shut as of now, with online classes being the new normal. Ph.D. or research scholars and postgraduate students may be permitted to attend classes from October 15 if they are enrolled in science and technology programs that necessitate laboratory classes.
Bars and restaurants finally reopen
While bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, and other drinking/eating joints had received a nod to start reopening under Unlock 4.0 guidelines in major cities elsewhere in the country, Hyderabad didn’t follow suit. Only in the last week of September did bars and eateries in Hyderabad reopen after almost 6 months of wait. A GO on September 25 permitted all outlets to open with immediate effect while issuing the SOPs of COVID-19 compliance protocols.
All bars have non-touch infrared thermometers or thermal screening machines to check passengers with a temperature at the entrance itself. In addition to proper hygiene, there shouldn’t be any lapse in crowd management at the parking lot or in queues outside the bar. Hand sanitization should also be introduced to customers. Before a new customer is ushered in, the seat of the previous customer needs to be sanitized thoroughly.
Rigorous sanitization and deep cleaning is a must twice a day at the outlets. Despite the dine-in option being allowed, no live events or DJs can take place, neither can dance floors and gatherings.
Metro services are open now
Hyderabad metro rails started operating from September 7 after over five months of dormancy. All three routes are open with four hours of operation in the morning and four in the evening.
Reopening of parks in Hyderabad
Parks such as NTR Park and KBR National Park, which are managed by the Forest, MAUD, and Panchayat Raj Departments in Hyderabad and all of Telangana, have opened since the end of September. Urban forest parks under the scope of HMDA have also reopened, while The Nehru Zoological Park also started ushering in visitors from October 6.
Green signal for social gatherings
All religious, social, cultural, academic, or political gatherings or congregations are allowed in Hyderabad, but the cap is set at 100 persons in attendance with mandatory social distancing and mask-wearing. Health screening and hand sanitizing are also encouraged.
Family gatherings such as marriages and funeral rites are also permitted with the maximum number of permitted attendees being 100. All these gatherings are permitted only outside containment zones. Movie theaters in Hyderabad are also open from October 15 with a cap on 200 visitors at a time, irrespective of its sitting capacity.