New Delhi: UK nationals visiting India this month will now have to undergo mandatory quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in retaliation for UK curbs on Indian citizens, a senior government source in New Delhi said on Friday.
The new rules, which take effect from Monday, follow the UK decision to require Indians vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s Covishield to quarantine.
India mainly relies on the Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and manufactured in India by Pune-based Serum Institute, which is not recognised by Britain under new rules, despite being identical to the doses given to millions of Britons.
AstraZeneca is one of the key providers to Britain’s vaccination programme, along with US peers Moderna and Pfizer.
“India has decided to impose reciprocity on UK nationals arriving in India from the UK,” the source said, declining to be identified in line with government policy.
Government sources in New Delhi had last month warned of retaliation after Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said he had urged for an early resolution after a meeting with his British counterpart at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
In its recently revised travel guideline, which will come into effect from October 4, UK initially did not mention Covishield in the list of its approved vaccines, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
Later, the British government included Covishield in the list but did not recognise the vaccination certificate — CoWin — which India issues for people who have been inoculated in the country, the publication said.
“This brings doubly vaccinated Indians travelling to the UK to the status of unvaccinated travellers and all alike will have to undergo quarantine in the UK if the vaccine certificate is not accepted,” the report added.
Indian and UK officials, according to the report, have held several meetings in getting the certificate recognised, but the latest move suggests the issue has not been resolved.