The COVID-19 pandemic has been around disrupting our lives for a while now. However, with successful vaccination drives, including booster doses for senior citizens and children, state governments are taking measures to lift restrictions in phases and encouraging people to get back to their regular pre-pandemic activities. This also means that now you can pursue your travel interests; just take adequate precautions and buy a robust travel insurance policy to cover your trip.
As part of COVID-19 safety measures, Maharashtra State Disaster Management Agency and Indian Railways have introduced a Universal Travel Pass, a QR code-based ePass system. The advantages of Universal Travel Pass include:
- Makes travel safe and convenient
- Allows interstate and national travel
- Eliminates the need to carry hard copy vaccination proof and its physical verification
- Works to remove the risk of fraudulent travel passes in cases of travel restrictions or lockdowns
- Ensures easy access to medical facilities at the time of need
Universal Travel Pass aligns with the concept of ‘establishment’ based passes. Under this, different firms and organisations are classified as different ‘establishments’ based on the nature of their business and staff strength. Each establishment must request registration on the pass portal. The request is then reviewed and approved by the Disaster Management authority in the district. Once approved, the establishment must upload the list of staff members who will need to travel frequently to keep the business running smoothly.
After the list of staff members is reviewed and approved, they are sent an auto-generated SMS by the portal asking them to start their individual registration process. The SMS comprises a URL for self-registration as well as login credentials. The approved staff members must upload their photos and generate their travel passes.
The big advantage of this system is that it reduces the burden of firms to get their employees authenticated and tracked. A common system allowing employees to manage their registration helps businesses focus on their processes.
Universal Travel Pass for Double Vaccinated Citizens
Citizens who have already received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine can generate their universal travel pass themselves. However, it is available for adult citizens only. A universal travel pass has the pass-holder’s personal details including their name, photo, gender, age, dates on which they received the first and second COVID vaccine, beneficiary ID and the QR code.
Further, the pass contains the level of travel category; this may be a numeric category identifying the eligibility of the pass-holder to travel depending on prevalent conditions. This lets the government allow graded travel limitations and guidelines for the public at large. So, specific people may be allowed to travel for specific needs even amid restrictions. Emergency service personnel and law enforcement personnel are given high access clearance passes. In contrast, other people may be given travel categories depending upon their nature of work and the part they can play in case of an emergency.
Such documentation initiatives have been made possible because of advancements in digital technologies and deeper penetration of high-speed mobile internet access services. These will help a lot in the case of management of any such future calamity or pandemic situation.
It should be kept in mind that Universal Travel Pass is meant to be used only in India. It does not equate to or replace the purchase of travel insurance online or offline. If you plan to travel out of India, say to the USA, you should also get travel insurance USA to cover any medical situations or emergencies.