Goa, Rajasthan and Gujarat are among the most frequented tourist destinations for Mumbai people. Moreover, Goa often serves as a weekend retreat for many young adults. But the new travel guidelines rolled out by the state government have made travel enthusiasts jittery.
Imran from Mira Road was planning a weekend in Goa with his family. But now he’s having second thoughts. “I won’t say I am scared but yes I am having doubts. There could be trouble while returning. Plus, I planned to have fun in Goa. Getting a Covid-19 test done will only spoil the mood.”
Aamir from Andheri wanted to see his relatives in Delhi for some urgent financial work that needed his presence but he’s too worried thinking of the return journey. “My relatives said it’s not easy to get a test done in Delhi. It takes three-four days. With this compulsory RT-PCR rule I am worried now.” he said.
Arvind and his wife wanted to drive down to Jaipur to meet their family but have shelved their programmes for now. “I think the situation is only going to worsen from here. Look at what’s happening in Delhi and north India. So whether you take air route, rail or road there are all the chances of getting infected. It’s best to avoid the cold.” he said.
On the day the new travel guidelines came into effect, India Today TV went on ground zero and checked with people about what they felt about the latest move by the state government.
“I knew that the government has introduced new travel guidelines so initially I got a bit tensed but then I got the test done before travelling to Mumbai. My report was negative so it was a relief,” said Neha (name changed) on arrival at the Mumbai International Airport on Wednesday morning.
She had gone to Goa over the weekends for some family work. She adds, “I guess the new guidelines can only be called good as they have been framed keeping the safety of people in mind.” she added.
New guidelines on domestic air travel came into effect from 25 November making it mandatory for the air passengers from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa travelling to Maharashtra to carry an RT-PCR negative test report before boarding. The sample collection has to be done within 72 hours of arrival in Maharashtra.
Another passenger Gopal, who arrived at the Mumbai airport from Goa in the morning said, “I am totally in favour of these rules. In fact, I am ready to show my negative report to anybody who asks for it at the airport. After all, it is about safety and we all need to abide by the rules. But no one asked for the report here.”
Many passengers could be seen coming out with the test reports in their hands. Another passenger Komal travelling with her young son from Rajkot in Gujarat said she had learnt of the new guidelines and made sure that she had the report on time. “I didn’t want to take the risk of getting the test in Mumbai since I have a young kid with me so I thought it is better to get it done from my native place itself,” she said. When asked if the checking was strict at the airports she said, “When I boarded the flight then my test report was checked by the airline. But here in Mumbai, no one asked for it. I thought someone would ask here as well so I kept it ready.”
Mumbai Airport officials said thermal screening was already in place and with the facility to conduct nearly five thousand RT-PCR tests, Mumbai Airport was always ready.
The Maharashtra government has also introduced guidelines for train passengers coming to the state from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa. The rail passengers here too will have to carry the Covid-19 negative report. The guideline states that the sample collection will have to be done 96 hours before the scheduled arrival.
The rule further says those who don’t have the report will be screened at the arriving railway station and in case they seem to have symptoms they will undergo a rapid antigen test. If in the test they are doing positive they won’t be allowed to go home and instead will be taken for further treatment.
Screening of the passengers was carried out in the morning on arriving trains and tests were conducted as well. A long queue of passengers could be seen at platforms. Central Railway PRO Shivaji Sutar said, “We are coordinating with state government authorities for screening and testing of incoming train Passengers of areas as mentioned in the notification issued by the state government.”
Some passengers seemed visibly irritated by the exercise. “There is so much crowding already because of the screenings. We are absolutely fit and fine but still we have to undergo these tests.” said a passenger not wanting to be named.
Another complained that there wasn’t enough time given to the passengers and they weren’t mentally ready for the new demands. “It harassment to get the test reports. Abiding by the strict timeline is worrying for any person travelling with family.”
CPRO Western Railway, Sumit Thakur, said as per the orders all groundwork had been readied. “The Railway along with RPF, GRP and BMC are ensuring that proper screening of the passengers is done at the stations. The tables and stalls have been put up at stations so that passengers can be checked.”
That the task of keeping a sharp eye on every arriving passenger is indeed tough a railway official on ground zero added that technically it wasn’t difficult as they have the list of passengers, but checking on every passenger is a challenge.
Other than the rail route and air route restrictions are also in place for road routes. Vigil is being kept at the borders as well. Sensing that some passengers might have rerouted their journey through safe states, checks are being carried out at the border routes. Local administration has said that the passengers crossing states carry RT-PCR test reports to avoid any travel hassles in the state.
Harshal and his group of friends had planned to drive down to Goa in their car but have now given up on the idea. “These tests and all look like something tricky. We don’t want any trouble while returning so I guess it’s better to cancel at the moment.”
The concerned district collectors are ensuring that the passengers are checked. The state guideline says if a person shows Covid-19 symptoms then he will be checked and if found positive then he will either be asked to return home or will be taken to a medical facility for treatment.
The state government has already said that the next couple of weeks are going to be critical and citizens need to exercise maximum restraint.
Source : Indiatoday