Mumbai Airport (BOM) staffers allegedly took money from travelers in return for forging their entry documents and allowing them to skip the mandatory quarantine.
On January 15, 2021, Indian police arrested a 35-year-old and two accomplices, on suspicion that they were involved in the “pay and skip quarantine” scam in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM). They allegedly collected bribes of Rs 4,000 ($55) from each arriving passenger who wanted to skip the mandatory quarantine.
After finding fake stamps of home quarantine and doctor’s notes, the police suspected that the staffers were selling fake health certificates. The police also seized Rs 140,000 ($1913) in cash and 200 Saudi riyals ($53), which could mean dozens of travelers arriving from Dubai, Kuwait and the United States, were able to bribe their way out of the quarantine rules.
The suspects are in custody until January 19, 2021. If found guilty, they could face up to seven years in prison for violation of prohibition orders, forgery and cheating, stated the report in the Times of India.
On December 27, 2020, Mumbai rolled out stricter quarantine rules. The restrictions meant all international passengers arriving to Mumbai from the UK, South Africa, Middle East, and Europe were subject to a mandatory quarantine of at least 14 days, including 7 days in a designated hotel and 7 days at home.
India has one of the busiest aviation markets. However, the recovery has been slow, since the country went into its first lockdown in March, 2020. In May 2020, India officially lifted the domestic travel ban and managed to restore its capacity to around 70% of 2019 levels.
On December 31, 2020, the international travel ban in India was set to be lifted, but it was extended to January 31, 2021, allowing only the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) approved international flights to enter.