New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Union Home Ministry on Thursday said that the Centre will start granting fresh tourist visas to foreigners coming to India through chartered flights from October 15. It also said that foreign tourists travelling to India by flights other than chartered aircraft would be able to do so with effect from November 15.

However, the Union Home Ministry said that all necessary protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Union Health Ministry would be mandatory for the foreign tourists, carriers bringing them into India and other stakeholders at the landing stations to follow.

"The MHA had been receiving representations from several State Governments as well as various stakeholders in the tourism sector to start Tourist Visas also, to allow foreign tourists to come to India. Therefore, the MHA consulted all major stakeholders like the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Tourism and various State Governments where foreign tourists are expected to arrive," it said in a release.

All international flights were suspended in India on March 24 last year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a complete nationwide lockdown after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with a reduction in daily COVID-19 cases, the calls across the country had increased to ease the restrictions on foreign tourists.

Though COVID-19 cases are decling in India, the Health Ministry has asked people across the country to be careful in October, November and December and advised them to avoid crowded places and celebrate festivals virtually.

Asserting repeatedly that the second wave of the pandemic is not over, the Health Ministry said that though the situation is plateauing, the country is still reporting as high as 20,000-odd new infections every day.

"We cannot take the current stable situation for granted. We have to be mindful of the fact that the pandemic is going on and can take an untoward turn if we are not careful," it said, as reported by news agency PTI.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma