USA Will Introduce India Travel Ban As Of May 4

Filed Under: Travel

A few days ago I posed the question of why the United States hasn’t yet introduced an India travel ban. It goes without saying that the situation in India is heartbreaking and the USA needs to do everything it can to help, though that doesn’t mean travel should be allowed without restrictions. Well, it looks like this is finally changing.

Details of new India travel ban

The White House will be introducing a ban on travel from India as of 12:01AM ET on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. As explained by Press Secretary Jen Psaki:

“On the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration will restrict travel from India starting immediately. This policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India. This policy will take effect on Tuesday, May 4.”

So travel will be restricted immediately… as of May 4? Hmm…

This travel ban will work similarly to other travel bans we’ve seen (including for the European Unionthe United Kingdom and IrelandBrazil, and South Africa), meaning that:

  • Americans will still be allowed to travel to India
  • With this ban, non-Americans who have been in India in the past 14 days won’t be permitted to enter the United States
  • Some exceptions will apply, like certain essential travelers, family members of Americans, etc.
  • Airlines can still operate as many flights as they want between the USA and India, there are just limits on who can travel on the flights

This is probably the right move, but what took so long?

While there are questions about the general usefulness of travel bans, this ultimately seems like a logical move. A few thoughts:

  • At least from a consistency standpoint, there’s no way that it was justifiable that travel was banned from the United Kingdom, while travel wasn’t banned from India
  • While the US requires pre-travel coronavirus testing, that doesn’t catch all cases, and there are questions about how good testing is in India for detecting variants, given that a recent Vistara flight from Delhi to Hong Kong had 47 people test positive for coronavirus upon arrival
  • I always find it ridiculous how travel bans aren’t effective immediately, as it essentially creates a rush for people to travel to the United States, which is counterproductive
  • What took so long for the White House to introduce this ban? Why wasn’t this introduced two weeks ago, because the chart of coronavirus cases in India paints a pretty clear picture

All the while Air India has been increasing service to the United States in light of increased demand.

Bottom line

The United States plans to introduce an India travel ban as of May 4, 2021. Ultimately if the United States is going to have travel bans, it absolutely makes sense that India be on the list.

That said, the execution of this seems like too little too late — what took so long for this to be introduced, and why doesn’t this apply effective immediately? Unfortunately that’s a pattern we’ve seen with virtually all travel bans in the USA since the start of the pandemic.

The situation in India is absolutely tragic, so here’s to hoping that things improve soon, and that travel bans can eventually be a thing of the past.

What do you make of the new United States travel ban for India?

Comments
  1. Embarrassingly inefficient government INaction. “Effective immediately…on May 4?” What a joke.

  2. Yeah, it’s pretty bad out there. Plus they’re not testing as much as USA was when we were knee deep in cases. They probably have multiple new “variants” too that the media will undoubtedly use to induce fear amongst the people

  3. Time to take some of the other countries off the banned list. How the U.K. is still banned when it’s infection rate is lower than the US it seems buzzare.

  4. Finally! Should’ve been done long ago! This disaster is the result of the right wing monster that is their Prime Minister.

  5. I agree with you. Not sure why it took so long. In addition, I’ve always been skeptical of lab results from other countries as I’ve heard stories of people paying for a covid negative test result. Who knows though.

  6. More loosey goosey responses from the American government to Covid. Seriously, travelers should be forced to quarantine in hotels like the rest of the world does. This country is a joke.

  7. no idea why it take long for NSC to say no way for those India flights coming here. Def a misstep by this administration.

    Hopefully, vaccines are effective against this nasty variant.

  8. I was in Europe when the “ban” was announced for those flying to the US and it just resulted in lots of people that weren’t eligible to fly after the effective date scrambling to get in. When these bans are announced, they should be effective immediately. The message of encouraging Americans to leave is also off. Better to tell them to shelter in place unless they are likely to need access to routine medical care.

  9. It makes sense to give some notice and about shouldn’t come as a surprise. The U.K. refused extra flights that were requested.
    Those returning to the U.K. have to hotel quarantine for 10 days ? What’s the US plan ?

    Meanwhile the US State Dept put the U.K. on a tier 4 do not travel ( although you face 10 days home quarantine on arrival plus mandatory Covid tests days 2 and 8 being booked before boarding a flight ). The Covid rate in the US and a 38 times higher than. Go figure

  10. Time for the inevitable realization that international travel is not getting back to normal anytime soon. I would not be surprised if we are wearing masks in planes a decade later.

  11. Just a correction that there are now 58 confirmed covid cases from that flight UK6395 (not 47) from local news, out of 151 passengers.

  12. Should have happened sooner, and with less notice. Now you risk having packed flights in the next few days and increasing the risk for passengers onboard. And there’s still no meaningful quarantine requirement in the US for these types of situations.

    That said, it’s still something. This doesn’t need to last for long, just until the situation in India stabilizes. In general the risk list should be updated more regularly to better match actual risks.

  13. When Pres Biden will remove travel ban for Schengen countries and UK? They said Mid-May, but no details until now…

  14. Wait, I’m confused. A year ago, then candidate Joe Biden said President Trumps ban on travel from China was racist.

    How is this any different? Doesn’t this qualify as the same?

  15. @David, yes i am confused as well haha. Cant wait for someone from the left to explain to me how these are different and how one was right and the other is wrong. Both are warranted if you use science and logic but politicians never let facts get in the way of their narrative.

  16. Does this mean a person who is boarding a flight in India on May 4th early morning (let’s say 2am IST) shall not be allowed to board the flight?

    In general, how does the effective date of travel bans interpreted and is it enforced during departure or based on arrival times of the flights?

  17. In India negative test results to positive person is given easily ( game of money) . How us can trust such COVID negative COVID reports? They will invite trouble is sure.

  18. Okay, so US citizens and permanent residents (many who are still not vaccinated) are immune to the virus and free to travel while foreign workers who live here and vaccinated and Indians who have been vaccinated in India are a threat to us ?

    Oh wait, when have these travel bans made sense anyway !

  19. @David — don’t forget it was also non-racist when Joe Biden coined the “superpredator” phrase, and wrote the 1994 crime bill!

  20. I’ll bet the price on those pre May 4th Air India flights just spiked. Policy is better than nothing but they should have had a mandatory quarantine for anyone coming from india.

  21. America is soft. Here in Koalastan, if an Australian citizen tries to come home from India we will put them in jail for five years and fine them 66000 kangaroo pesos. No exceptions.

    How good is Australia!

  22. @MMcG not to mention the city where said Koalastani citizen lands will be on total lockdown for 3 days minimum. Safety First!

  23. Can somebody tell President Biden that it might be a good idea to lift the bans for Europe & UK? Thank you.

  24. Does this change anything for people traveling to India? I am asking just to make sure as there is no information related to this.

  25. If you’re going to stop the virus entering the USA have a total ban of flights from India for a month, not restrictive.

  26. Uncle Joe was too busy divining there was genocide in Armenia sometime around his 30th birthday to pay attention to people being slaughtered today by failed public health policies. Don’t worry, he’s not racist. He loves big gulps.

  27. Travel bans are racist
    Travel bans don’t work
    Go to little India section of your city and hug an Indian person

  28. For those wondering about comments INS_Vikrant, Samuel, David, Steve_CC et al:

    Not really much to explain with regards to Biden’s travel restrictions vs. Trump’s travel restrictions and that’s because Biden never said implementing a restriction/ban in and of itself was “racist”. Trump did accuse (lie, really) Biden of saying Trump was racist for implementing a travel ban with China. If Biden really did say, shouldn’t be hard to find a press conference video, news article, transcript link where Biden said that specifically so please proceed.

    Back on topic – I am curious about the wisdom in announcing restrictions several days before it goes into effect. Why announce it in advance and potentially get even more people to return just before the deadline? Last time it happened, it caused so much crowding in US airports that experts thought it likely became a superspreader event and further seeded the virus all over the US.

  29. the reason it took so long is 1. the exponential rise in cases has been fairly recent (compared to the UK or Brasil, where the spikes were much earlier; and 2. people, governments, and companies need time to generate contingency plans. If you announced a ban and then implemented it suddenly, lots of people and businesses would be displaced.

  30. @AT … correct. India is at 150 deaths per million people. Far below the other countries in the world. 118th in the world in fact. Ban is justified, but only because of the recent spike. Their just going thru what other countries have already gone through.

  31. For all the people asking why it took so long, it’s the same reason why it took so long for Canada as well: politicians are scared of losing Indian votes, so they tried to put off the situation (and hope things get better) as long as they can.

    In the end we all pay the price.

  32. @David

    A large population in India is considered “White”. So you wanna have white people be racist to themselves? Hilarious.

  33. Oh..oh…now what are the 7-11’s and Dunkin Donuts in Delaware gonna do?? Maybe now you won’t need a slight Indian accent to go into one.

  34. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka should all have been banned too. They will be, but as usual too late.

    And … Americans are allowed to travel straight from India WITHOUT ANY QUARANTINE?? WTF.

    The CDC needs more resources; I thought it was a top-priority for Biden, but I guess it takes time to rebuild competency from the demoralized and gutted skeleton left behind by Trump.

  35. @Jake

    The CDC does not need more resources; it simply needs to stop being political. More resources will actually make it even worse just like too many cooks ruin a soup as long as they are concerned about optics rather than health. Additionally in today’s world of high paid medical professionals in the US, the most qualified are rarely ever going to work for the CDC.
    Everyone wants to bash Trump’s response but in hindsight it is no different than the rest of the Western world (apart from Australia and New Zealand). Everyone praised the response in Germany and other parts of Europe last summer and now the situation there is worse than in the United States. The response in the Western world has been terrible, Trump included. Biden has done no better, except for possibly vaccine distribution. The number of deaths on his watch in his first 100 days is already half of Trump’s total. One would have thought he had a plan to try alternative therapies like is being tried in other parts of the world – he said he had a plan.

  36. What took so long? Easy. The current administration is too deathly afraid of coming off as xenophobic.

  37. *Sigh* it’s tiring when so many right-wing trolls come out every time Covid is mentioned.

    1) Biden called Trump racist for implementing travel bans last year. False. He called Trump xenophobic for his other travel bans, including calling for travel bans during the Ebola epidemic in Africa, and the ban on Muslims. He called Trump incompetent and the worst possible leader for managing a public health crisis, which has been proven in spades. After all, America is still #1 in per capita deaths from covid. MAGA!!

    2) You can get a fake test in India. True. You can also get a fake test here, or anywhere. Heck, plenty of wingnut websites were selling fake vaccination records for anti-vaxxers who didn’t want to wear masks or face quarantine restrictions or thought vaccine passports were a sign of the Bill Gates 666 NWO MS13 Illuminati conspiracy or some nonsense. Besides why are y’all so worried about fake tests if you think the disease is fake? You should be encouraging your Indian brothers-in-arms for sharing in your lunatic beliefs that the virus is nothing but a librul conspiracy and nothing to worry about and share in your civil disobedience. Disregard the body bags, it’s just a cold!

    3) @David. Haha, awesome joke about Indians and 7-11s and Dunkin Donuts. Never heard that one before! You might be better off with no Indians serving you a Big Gulp and a dozen donuts. Haven’t you seen America’s obesity rate? What you really need to worry about is if there are no Indian doctors to treat you when your fat ass ends up in a hospital. Don’t like it when I call you a fat donut-eating, supersize slushy drinking American? I guess stereotypes cut both ways, snowflake.

    4) On to a more serious point: the delay in implementing the ban. There’s 2 parts to that: why not announce it earlier, and 2) when announced, why delay implementation for 4 days? IMHO, the first one is reasonable: the spike has happened pretty rapidly, and what’s more worrisome isn’t the spike per se but the new variants being seen. If the spike was purely from old variants that are covered by the vaccine, the risks to the American population are relatively lower than if the new variants aren’t covered and/or are more deadly / easier to spread. They probably didn’t have enough info about the new variants until recently. That said, I agree that once the decision has been made, they should have just announced an immediate stop to all flights that aren’t already in the air. Not to mention they’ve made no mention of quarantine and tracing policies for the people who meet exceptions and will still be able to travel.

    Anyway, sorry for going on a political rant on your site, Lucky. But I can’t help it when people who willingly refuse to believe that covid exists, refuse to take any precautions, etc. have the gall to turn around and say some dirt-poor guy in a less developed country who doesn’t even have access to oxygen is somehow the bigger a**hole in this whole mess.

  38. @Aaron
    Or Kamala had to get all of her extended family in. Some probably needed an extra day for visa processing so they delayed until the 4th rather than immediate

  39. I hoped that the new administration would be more competent in handling covid. I guess not. The travel restriction (not really ban) won’t be effective, as we learn from 2020. American citizens and PRs can still make their way home. Virus don’t care about nationality. As long as the US does not have an effective testing, quarantines, contact tracing on the border, international travelers will keep seeding new variant in the country. We came such a long way to get a large population vaccinated, yet the government is risking all those effort by letting the border open to virus.

  40. This is fantastic news since this may allow me to gain nonresident status for another year! In addition to recent taxation adjustments due to Covid, I may not have to pay taxes for another year on by income and investments!

    I am fine with this restriction but I think it should be reciprocal. We don’t really need more people from a country that has the highest population of anti vaccine imbeciles!

  41. Why are Americans allowed to travel anywhere either? Americans should be banned from travel anywhere right now and into the future. The U.S. has the highest proportion of scepticism of vaccines anywhere in the world. I certainly don’t want Americans here unless the U.S. can confidently verify that 100% of its population has been vaccinated – forcefully in required.

  42. @Emily, your comment is just stupid. I’m not a huge fan of US policy, but the US, Israel, and the UK are the most vaccinated countries at the moment, on the planet. The UK though has only administered 1 dose, not 2 so if anything, that should be a factor in whether bans in place for travel to/from the UK are lifted.

    As for an India travel ban, it’s too late. Should have been done a week ago. And this is where the US, EU, and other rich nations can be effective in acting in lockstep. Assure supplies and humanitarian aid, but block travel until the cases are on a sustained downward trend.

    India’s geography, population size and density, and poverty are all a factor here but so is the government there for essentially taking few if any steps to avoid the situation from becoming unimaginable, which is now what has happened.

  43. Just checked the fares on United.com for 05/03 and 05/04 before the travel ban kicks in

    DEL-EWR $6000 one way

    DEL-SFO $11000 one way

    BOM-EWR $11000 one way.

    The non stop United flights are not displayed maybe they are already sold out. The above fares are on Air India and Lufthansa vis FRA.

  44. @Emily – sounds good. Let’s also ban any shipments of vaccines made in America to your country too.

  45. @MMcG “Koalastan” – that’s great! Unfortunately very true, but great none the less.

  46. @Lune
    The remarks about 7/11 and dunkin donuts were actually in reference to a statement made by Biden. Too often people assume a statement that offends them has to have been made by the political side that they despise. Trump and Biden have and continue to make horrendous mistakes in their handling of covid. Pretending one is better than the other does not resolve this crisis. I just wish they would bring in experts from countries that have actually been successful and put Fauci out to pasture.

    “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

    — Joe Biden, captured on C-SPAN’s “Road to the White House” series, trying to bond with an Indian-American supporter. A Biden spokeswoman later said, “The point Senator Biden was making is that there has been a vibrant Indian-American community in Delaware for decades.”

  47. I think it’s time that the administration considered lifting the ban for the UK and EU/Schengen area.

  48. @David – Lol – No one cares about that shit. The lobbying was to resume raw materials (which works both ways for many categories if held back) and not finished product.

    @Lune – Mic drop post.

  49. @David, @Alan, just so you know, the immigrants in US pick your food, do your laundry, landscaping, roofing, and all the other labor intensive jobs that your white fat asses are too entitled to do. So, least you can do is say thank you and move on.

    Let’s see what happens to 7-11s and DDs and all other Indian owned and run stores if they were to leave. You right-wing nut jobs are too stupid to run a store let alone own it. So now go back to the survival bunker you came out from

  50. It’s kind of too late. Other countries that have tight borders are ok for them to implement now becuz any arrivals would usually caught the virus during quarantine or testing at the airport. But for US, with no strict borders the new variant is probably already out there.

  51. @Sarthak — Really? You know what WE say here?
    ‘Keep your mouth shut when you have no clue about it.’ – Follow it, you will be benefitted.

    You have no about the drama that the Indian gov created to deflect the misuse and stupidity of their governance.

    I can tell you this, a PM selling/ donating 60M doses of vaccines with his picture on every dose for his election benefit and without giving them to the citizens first, should be taken down immediately! That’s what of any sensible and developed country would do.

  52. @Ole
    You do realize the statement about Indians and 7/11s was made by Biden – I did not know he was a crazy right winger.

    By the way, I live in Mexico. I know very well why there are Mexican migrants in the US and I know how they exploited by the US system which provides them with no rights and substandard wages.

    I am concerned about Indians bringing new variants into California and it being passed to Mexico. We do not have printing presses to print trillions of dollars. The number of cases in Mexico has dropped to the lowest levels since last summer and I want to see the trend continue.

  53. @KK13 – All that is correct about mismanagement by the government.

    It’s fine to go off on a random emotional rant but if you read clearly, my response was about India’s dependency on ‘American vaccines’. India has more than enough capacity to meet it’s own needs, provided it can make them using the appropriate raw materials in a timely manner and distribute where it’s needed (which clearly this government did not do).

    For the record, US has 60MM AZ doses which aren’t even cleared to be exported because they’re made at the same place where 15MM doses had to be thrown away due to contamination. If approved which could take months, a large chunk of it (rightly so) might go to other places where there is zero capacity i.e. Africa.

  54. @Ole:

    Why the hate? I guess it’s the only way left wingers can articulate, as so many of their positions have no logic.

    Conservatives have nothing against LEGAL immigration, its ILLEGAL immigration that we oppose. And as many people have pointed out, it’s racist Joe Biden who made the comment about Indians and DD, not a conservative. And it’s Joe Biden who has been silent while left wing democrats tweet racial slurs against a U.S. Senator.

  55. @shoeguy why so? The fact is that the percentage of vaccinated citizens is expected to peak at around 80% in the U.S. based on past data. That leaves roughly 60 million people unvaccinated. In comparison, canine phobia is almost non existent in India and many other countries in Asia, with successful vaccination rates exceeding 99.999%. With that logic, it only makes sense to restrict travel for Americans until the government can forcefully vaccinate the entire population.

    @David firstly India is manufacturing all of its vaccines and not relying on imports. It is also a supplier of vaccines to a large portion of the world. If you study history, you so find that India has been probably the most successful country so large scale inoculation. Secondly, I’m actually am American citizen based in India but I thank you for making that fortuitous error.

  56. @Lune – fantastic commentary and frankly the only one with reading.

    The egocentrism of the ill informed white man is quite rampant on this blog.

  57. Don’t understand why everyone is pointing to Indians with fake treats when there are multiple reported cases in Ohio of factory workers using fake test reports to return to work. When you live on minimum wage, do you really think you can afford to stay home, especially without an equitable healthcare system? This blog is intended for the privileged but I didn’t realise they are also deluded and blind to what happens in our backyard!

  58. My opinion is simple.

    There are idiots and non idiots.

    If you travel anywhere until the end of the year, except where unavoidable, you’re an idiot.

    Stay home. Be responsible. The end.

  59. I get the fear that many Americans are facing here. When I decided to quit my life of twenty years in the U.S. to return to India in 2019, little could I predict that God was watching over me and brought me back at the right time. I’m thankful for not being in the states this time last year when our healthcare system in NY collapsed. Currently, living in Mumbai, I actually don’t feel as fearful as some of the commentators here. We will be fine. As someone who has lived in both nations, I think one similarity has always been our strength and fearlessness. Difficult situations require tactful and careful actions – not unnecessary panic mongering and reactions based on fear. For many the time that the U.S. allowed before the ban has been important in wrapping up things here to get back to life in the states. The fact is that the ban will most probably end regular flights between the two nations once loads decline. So just relax and breath. The world isn’t coming to an end. Be empathetic. It will probably help you to live a longer life than this ban.

  60. @AT – No, they actually don’t need time to generate contingency plans. Remember 9/11/2001? All domestic flights were grounded the same day, and any incoming international flights were forced to land in Canada and Mexico. The same could easily be done again on a moment’s notice for air traffic from India.

  61. Hi , Quick question, my spouse and kid’s flight from india to DOHA and doha to Dallas scheduled for 4th May. Effective 12:01 AM on 4th USA is banning travel for India citizen, but my question by that time my spouse and kid would be in transit status and they will arrive in USA on 4th May 03:25 PM. If they travel, will they allow to enter as this is the in transit flight? Please help.Thank you and whom should i contact now.

  62. @Palash Karal

    Try this number from CBP in Dallas. They should be able to provide an answer or tell you who can.

    Entry Branch:
    Entry Summaries/ Statements/ Protests/ Bonds/ Entry Summary/ Cancellations/ Quota Processing
    Phone Number: (972) 870-7537
    Fax Number: (972) 870-7533

  63. Trump bans travel from China = Racist
    Biden bans travel from India = smart

    Yet the US media keeps trying to tell us that it has no political bias.

  64. Biden has left open so many loopholes that the ban is pointless. If these new variants break through the vaccine there will be no one to blame except him.
    His administration is also actively trying to persuade other nations to not approve the Russian vaccine. Every nation needs to work together.

  65. Thank you so much Alan for the info. I have emailed them , looking for options .

  66. @Alan and frankly everybody

    The biggest problem is not foreign travelers bringing in a new mutation of the virus. Projections from the CDC clearly that percentage of the vaccinated population in the US is peaking between 35-40! That is just crazy! 60-70% of the population are not interested nor intending to receive the vaccine! In addition, about 10% of the population skipped the second dose. The fact is that countries such as India will successfully vaccinate their entire population, in time. They have a long history of successful vaccine campaigns. The biggest problem for the future is unvaccinated Americans and vaccine sceptics from other western countries. So, is the U.S. and these other countries willing to remain on permanent travel bans? I certainly hope so because I don’t want more American tourists bringing in the virus.

    Basically start worrying about what’s happening in your own home first. You want to make a difference? Get people in your community to vaccinate. This is a better use of your time.

  67. The mixed messages in the US with respect to the vaccine have not helped at all. It seems many of those that supported Trump are not interested even though the vaccines were developed under his regime. You have a vice president who proudly proclaimed she would never take a vaccine that Trump ordered who is now part of an administration strongly recommending that same vaccine. You have a government recommending those who have had covid get vaccinated when biologists find that advice absurd. Does the government even have a plan B?

    As for India, you may not be aware but prior to the current explosion, most Indians believed the pandemic was over and were not being vaccinated when it was available. Of course that is now changing.

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