India stopping flights to and from Britain after a new strain of COVID-19 with high transmissibility was reported in the UK has upset plans of many who were to come back home before the New Year or return to universities there for pending research work.
The flight suspension till the end of this year was announced on Monday in view of detection of a new rapid-spreading strain of the coronavirus in parts of England. Besides India, other countries like Canada have also stopped flights from the UK.
“My family is visiting me and they were supposed to return post-Christmas. But now their plans seem to be doomed,” said Abhijeet Dang, an IT professional in the UK.
He said the whole year people were not travelling fearing they would get stuck due to sudden lockdowns. “We kept delaying our travel, thinking either of us might get stuck, but recently my family took the chance and came to the UK,” Abhijeet said.
His mother Taruna Dang, who is a professor at a private university in India, said, “I can continue taking online classes from the UK but we have seen in the past that once stranded, the struggle begins. We hope flights resume soon.”
To add to his worries, the UK, following the detection of the new coronavirus strain, has been ordering localised lockdowns.
Deepak Tripathi came on a week-long business trip to Belfast in Northern Ireland to finish work before his wife’s delivery in January.
“We suffered huge losses last year and I knew it will be a while before I can come again (to Belfast) because we are expecting our first child. But now, I am stranded here. I hope I am able to make it home in time before her delivery, though my parents are there with her,” he said.
After waiting for over eight months, Natasha Sharma, had plans to travel back to the UK in the last week of December to continue her pending research from January onwards, but the same has been put on hold once again.
“I came in March for two weeks and got stuck here. I kept doing my work online and kept exploring options about how and when to go back,” she told PTI.
Sharma said that after letting go off the initial apprehensions, exploring quarantine rules and the Vande Bharat schedule, and making several other arrangements, “I had plans to travel in the last week of December but again it has to be put on hold”.
Various European nations and Canada have also barred UK flights. India’s ban is currently until the end of the year.
“Considering the prevailing situation in UK, Govt. of India has decided that all flights originating from UK to India to be suspended till 31st December 2020 (23.59 hours). This suspension to start w.e.f. 23.59 hours, 22nd December 2020,” the aviation ministry said in a series of tweets.