Bahrain lays out tough new rules for air travellers

People entering from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka will also have to undergo two PCR tests

Image used for illustrative purpose. Travelers waiting at the boarding gates of Manama Airport.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Travelers waiting at the boarding gates of Manama Airport.

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People arriving at Bahrain International Airport (BIA) from ‘red-list’ countries will now have to provide a copy of their electricity bill or lease agreement as proof of residency.

They can also submit a hotel reservation, as an alternative, according to a revised advisory from Bahraini authorities yesterday.

Additionally, people entering from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka will also have to undergo two PCR tests – one upon arrival at BIA and one after 10 days of quarantine.

These amended regulations – endorsed by diplomatic missions and airlines – aim to ensure an effective 10-day quarantine for all those entering from these countries in the wake of new variants of Covid-19 spreading across the Indian subcontinent.

Yesterday, hundreds of passengers who travelled from the red-listed countries were caught off guard as they were unaware of the tighter regulations.

A number of expatriate residents who arrived were held up at the airport despite immigration clearance, for want of one of the evidence documents, demanded by health officials.

However, it was resolved after diplomats and social workers intervened.

“We are aware of the matter and in touch with airport authorities,” Indian Ambassador Piyush Srivatsava told the GDN. The mission updated its travel advisory last night.

The Civil Aviation Affairs had announced that entry from red-list countries will be restricted to Bahraini citizens and residency visa holders who must present an approved PCR test certificate conducted no more than 48 hours prior to boarding.

They must undertake another PCR test on arrival and on the 10th day of stay.

Additionally, they must quarantine for 10 days at their residence or at a licensed quarantine facility approved by the National Health Regulatory Authority. The rules are also applicable to all vaccinated or non-vaccinated passengers arriving from countries other than the red list, with exemptions for certain categories.

Indian social worker Fazal Ul Haq told the GDN that almost 150 passengers faced hurdles as they could not present any valid proof of residency at the airport for the last two days.

“There were people of all nationalities and they were not aware of the new regulations.

“Residents must provide either an electricity bill in his/her name, or copy of the lease agreement for his/her residence or a hotel booking.

“We must obey the law as it is a mandatory health advisory, otherwise, the passenger will have to return to his home country at his own expense,” he warned.

Indian national carrier Air India endorsed these regulations in its advisory, as part of bilateral operations currently under the air bubble agreement (travel corridor established amidst Covid-19).

It highlighted that the negative PCR test for Covid-19 was for those above six years.

Meanwhile, posts circulating on social media last night indicated that another group of travellers arriving from Pakistan and Bangladesh at the airport were made to wait for more than 12 hours while the issue was addressed.

One of the travellers, Muhammad Farooque, who arrived on Gulf Air flight GF765 from Lahore yesterday morning, spoke to the GDN about the ordeal.

“Around 40 travellers from Pakistan and Bangladesh have been made to wait at the airport since we are unable to pay the required hotel quarantine charges,” the 35-year-old service manager claimed.

“They have kept us in an isolated area, without food. We were not told about this new rule until we landed and do not have the required documentation.

“Now we are being asked to pay BD260 for the hotel, in addition to the BD36 fee for Covid-19 tests.

“This is more than we can afford. I can understand the need for tighter requirements but they should have been checked before we even boarded the flight. We have been trying all day to reach the Pakistan Embassy, without any luck.”

The National Taskforce to Combat Coronavirus (Covid-19) on Sunday said it would modify red list countries based on its assessment periodically, reviewed in line with international developments.

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