The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday asked states and UTs to ensure that foreign returnees, who made advance payments for hotel stay, should get refunds after the reduction of 14 days institutional quarantine to seven days.
In a letter to all state governments and union territory administrations, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the fresh guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have revised the quarantine arrangements for those Indians who have returned from abroad under the Vande Bharat Mission.
As per these guidelines, protocol for institutional quarantine has been revised to seven days followed by seven days home quarantine after medical assessment.
Mr Bhalla said it has been brought to the notice of the Home Ministry that Indian nationals who were quarantined in hotels after their return from abroad were made to pay in advance for 14 days.
"Since they can now leave for home quarantine after seven days, the amount paid by them for the remaining seven days needs to be refunded to them, which some hotels are refusing to refund.
"You are requested to issue necessary directions to hotels earmarked and used for institutional quarantine to ensure that foreign returnees who were quarantined in hotels and paid advance of 14 days, shall be refunded their balance amount, without any delay," the letter said.
As per the latest SOP, all travellers will have to give an undertaking that they would undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days -- seven days paid institutional quarantine at their own cost, followed by seven days isolation at home with self-monitoring of health.
Only for exceptional and compelling reasons such as cases of human distress, pregnancy, death in family, serious illness and parent(s) accompanied by children below 10 years, as assessed by the receiving states, home quarantine may be permitted for 14 days and use of ''Aarogya Setu'' app shall be mandatory in such cases.
According to the SOP issued by the Home Ministry on May 5, the institutional quarantine period was 14 days and another 14 days was for home quarantine while ''Aarogya Setu'' app was mandatory for all international arrivals.
The government is currently undertaking a special operation under the name of ''Vande Bharat Mission'' to bring back stranded Indians from more than 40 countries.
The nationwide lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic. It was first extended till May 3 and again till May 17. The lockdown has now been extended till May 31.