Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said he does not understand the need to quarantine domestic air passengers once flight operations start from next week if they have downloaded the government’s contract-tracing app Aarogya Setu and the status on it shows green (negative).
"If you have taken a test and your test report is negative, following which you don't have any symptoms, I believe there should be no need for quarantine. The Aarogya Setu app is like a passport, if your status on the app is green. Why should anyone want any quarantine?" he asked.
The statement comes as the governments of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Assam, and the administration of Jammu and Kashmir have decided that arriving passengers will have to stay in quarantine despite the Centre advising against it.
His statement came a day after Tamil Nadu said it is not in favour of restarting domestic air services connecting cities in the state till the end of this month and might take up the matter with the Centre.
The immediate concern of the state government is to screen all the arriving passengers and keep track of the
infected, if any. The sheer volume of passengers at the airports would make the health machinery concentrate more on the inbound visitors, said state government officials.
While Kerala has backed the resumption of domestic air services, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said all those who reach the state by domestic flights will have to undergo 14-day quarantine as per the lockdown protocol but exempted people coming for business needs from this.
"Some business executives may visit the state for a meeting or something and we cannot demand 14-day quarantine for them," Vijayan had said, adding necessary health precautions will be taken in their case.
Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja had earlier said domestic flyers arriving in the state must undergo strict home quarantine as per the lockdown guidelines in view of increasing COVID-19 cases in the state.
"There is no change in that. Most people will be coming from the major hotspots of the country," she had said.
Puri on Saturday also said India will try to restart a good percentage of international passenger flights before August. All scheduled commercial passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 25 when the government imposed a lockdown to contain the novel cornavirus pandemic.
"I am fully hopeful that before August or September, we will try to start a good percentage of international civil aviation operations, if not complete international operations," Puri said during a Facebook live session.
"I can't put a date on it (restarting international flights). But if somebody says can it be done by August or September, my response is why not earlier depending on what is the situation," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)