As the COVID-19 situation in India has been changing every day, state governments have been tweaking its rules for passengers coming from other states, especially those travelling by road.
Registering on the websites and mobile apps of the respective governments, verification at two to three checkposts between two states and quarantine procedure are some of the common guidelines issued by states. However, the ground reality has been different for many passengers who undertook interstate travel by road amid restrictions.
A few passengers shared the procedures they followed, including registering for the interstate pass, and what to expect at checkposts. Some offer tips and advice.
Please note: While these are the basic procedures, the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the governments on passes, hand stamps and quarantine days are subject to change, depending on the evolving COVID-19 situation in each state.
Bengaluru to Kerala
Traveller: Serene Sarah Zachariah
Date of journey: July 6
Apply for the Kerala pass at the Domestic Returnees Registration page on the COVID-19 Jagratha portal. Fill in the basic details and provide the address and ward number of the house where you will be quarantined for 14 days. Also, provide the exact date of the checkpost crossing.
Within 24 hours, a healthcare member from your ward will contact you asking if your home in Kerala meets the requirement for quarantine. They may ask who your ward member is. Remember to save the number of this health official, in case the process delays.
After they verify your details, they will add remarks to your pass and it should be approved in 48 hours. If it is not approved, you can call the helpline numbers given in the link here; they will approve it immediately.
Once the Kerala pass is approved, you can apply for a transit pass from Tamil Nadu. This will be approved within an hour.
Remember to print out two copies of both these documents, along with your vehicle insurance papers. Tamil Nadu pass must be printed in colour and stuck on the car's front window before starting the journey. There will be checking at Hosur and Coimbatore but there is no need to get out of the car.
At the Walayar checkpost, all passengers in the vehicle have to get out and report in person to the officials at the checkpost. Please carry your Kerala pass and remember the taluk of the address given in the form.
When we reached, there were around 20 people across three to four counters. The officials have face shields and masks and a glass partition between us and them.
They will ask for your name, Taluk and phone number. You will also have to hold up your form against the glass partition and undergo a temperature check. So it's super important to be fully prepared with disposable gloves and an N95 mask.
They will hand over another pass through a circular hole in the glass partition. Carry a Ziploc or a small plastic file to place this form in. Once that process is over, dispose of your gloves immediately and sanitise.
Soon after exiting the checkpost, there will be another police checking. They will ask for the pass that you just received, verify it and then you are good to go.
Remember to remove the Tamil Nadu pass from your car windshield after this to avoid confusion at other checkpoints.
If you are travelling by bus, the bus operators will take care of applying for the Tamil Nadu pass. Currently, private bus operators are not permitted to function but the 'Kerala Samajam Bangalore' is offering bus services to all routes in Kerala.
My roommate who travelled via their service said it is absolutely safe, hygienic and spaced out. They can be contacted at: 9880066695, 9036339194 and 8197302292.
Once you reach Kerala, be in strict home quarantine for 14 days and inform your health inspector that you have reached. When you complete quarantine, you can request for a quarantine completion pass from the covid jagratha website.
Hyderabad to Bengaluru
Date of journey: July 7
First, apply for an e-pass on Karnataka governmentâ€™s Seva Sindhu web portal. The process took me 10-15 minutes. It asked me all my details, which address I am going to, phone number etc. The form asks for which toll-gate you will be passing to enter Karnataka. This helps and saves time.
Itâ€™s a self-approved pass. If the application is filed, it is considered approved and you are given a copy of the pass. They ask you to carry original documents.
From Hyderabad when we started, no one from Telangana government stopped us. We were stopped at the Andhra Pradesh border in Kurnool district, right before the toll plaza, where tents were set up.
A police officer checked the pass, took down my name, contact number, vehicle number, Aadhaar card number and the address I was going to. No separate transit pass was issued for Andhra.
Once the details were noted, we were free to move again. There was no acknowledgement or a receipt from the Andhra police.
We entered Karnataka at the Bagepalli toll plaza. Just after the toll, a building has been converted into a checkpoint.
At the entrance, there were two desks. At the first desk, they checked the temperature and noted it down in a form that they handed over.
It was a self-declaration form that I will abide by the latest SOP (standard operating procedure) and remain 14 days in home quarantine. It also asked if I had any symptoms (cough, sore throat, fever etc). On one end of the room, several beds had been put up, but they were all empty.
After filling up the form, it was handed over to the second desk, where I was issued a stamp on my hand.
I was accompanied by a driver who had a business pass (to return in 48 hours). He was exempt from this whole process.
Driver's pass if he/she is exiting the state
I reached Bengaluru on July 7 and till now, I have not been contacted by anyone from the government, but I have been under home quarantine.
Chennai to Kerala
Date of journey: June 14
Apply for e-pass with Kerala government first. Details like your email address, proof of identity and vehicle details will be asked. If you are travelling in your own vehicle, it is easy since you need not change vehicles. This pass has options like 7-day pass, 30-day pass etc, which has validity for the corresponding number of days. We opted for 30 days.
They ask for the address of stay to check if there is space for home quarantine. The issuance of pass takes a couple of days.
Once you receive the pass from Kerala, apply for the Tamil Nadu pass and upload the Kerala pass. Again, you will have to enter the vehicle number. This normally takes a couple of hours. Paste both the passes on the windshield. These passes will tell which are the checkposts you will be crossing.
Once you reach Walayar, you will be issued another vehicle pass after the checking. The Walayar centre had a glass wall and the people inside were wearing full PPE kits. There was a temperature check at the checkpost, too.
Follow quarantine for 14 days. The local police, local health officials and the Corporation have been calling and checking almost every day, at different times. We even received a call from a doctor enquiring about our mental health. Once we completed the mandatory quarantine, we received a certificate.
The Tamil Nadu pass mentions that the driver who owns the car can return without any additional pass. He will be issued a slip, which is a vehicle pass.
Bengaluru to Andhra Pradesh
Traveller: Rajasekhar Danturti
Date of journey: June 27
I obtained the e-pass from Andhra Pradeshâ€™s Spandana portal. I got my pass within a day. Without this pass, you cannot enter Andhra as this is needed to get approval from the police personnel at the border.
At the Nangali checkpost (Andhra-Karnataka border), we have to stop the vehicle about 250-500 metres ahead of the checkpost. Passengers will have to step down and get the details manually entered. After this, we have to pass through the same gate, where, again, the police will stop and ask if the record is added. There is no need to get down for the second check. If the details are not entered, your vehicle will be stopped here.
There is a separate queue for four-wheelers and two-wheeler vehicles. Carrying the hard copy of necessary documents saves time. If you carry the softcopy, you need to send that PDF to the official at the counter through WhatsApp.
There was no hand stamping and no explanation for the mandatory quarantine days. I know that it is up to people who are responsible to stay home quarantine; but it will be good if the SOP is reiterated at these places.
I was travelling with an infant, a child with special needs and a senior citizen. They did not get out. My advice is, travel on weekdays and reach the checkpost early.
I found two existing procedures at the Nangali checkpost (Andhra-Karnataka border) slacking.
Although there is a thermal screening unit and a van, where those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 are being sent for a swab test, no one was being screened when I crossed the border.
There was also no physical distancing while standing in the queue. I stood in a queue of 70 persons. This was because of the manual log entry at the checkpost, which could have been avoided if the officials had used the QR code on the pass to verify the details. QR check will enable automatic logging.
Also, my vehicle was not stopped at any of the district checkposts. So anyone who bypasses the border by other means will not get caught. Overall, I feel more stringent checks will help the government control this pandemic situation.
Traveller: Ram Prakash
Date of journey: July 3
The approval of my e-pass on Spandana website took almost eight days. I had to reschedule my trip due to the delay in approval. Once the e-pass is approved, it is valid for seven days.
We started from Bengaluru at 6 am and we were stopped at Nangali checkpost by the Andhra police. This checkpost is the entry point to Andhra.
There were loads of vehicles waiting there for police clearance. We were asked to park our car on the roadside and get down for verification. We were asked to forward our e-pass to a WhatsApp number provided by the police officials. Once our details were noted down and e-pass verified, we were clear to enter Andhra Pradesh.
If you do not have a valid pass or have expired passes, you will be asked to go back to Karnataka. I also noticed some people without passes pleading with a senior police official or taking VIP names. But the official was strict as far as I noticed during my time there.
Those travelling by buses are allowed to go without any checks at the borders. Those travelling by two-wheelers are asked to show their Aadhaar card.
It was a smooth journey after the verification at the checkposts, until I reached Tirupati, my destination.
There is no mandatory 14-day home quarantine for interstate travellers specified by the government, like in Karnataka.
Chennai to Mangaluru
Date of journey: June 4
I travelled from Chennai to Mangaluru on June 4. I got the Tamil Nadu exit pass within no time. But it took time to get the Karnataka Seva Sindhu pass. I travelled with my wife.
Prior to my journey, I informed my Residents Welfare Association (RWA) in Mangaluru. They did not object.
There were three checkposts until we reached Bengaluru. I did not even roll down my window; I just had to show the pass and the officials concerned allowed my passage.
The Attibele border in Bengaluru was, however, a mess. There were a lot of people and no place to park vehicles. We had to park our vehicles and get down here. Even if we have registered all our details on the Seva Sindhu, the officials still asked us all the details again and noted it manually. So, that will take some time. They could have verified the Aadhar card and made the process simple.
They issued a stamp on our hands. There was one more check when we entered Dakshina Kannada. It was a manual entry again.
There was no temperature check at any of the checkposts.
A day after reaching Mangaluru, health workers visited our apartment and verified the seal and other details. They placed a poster on our door as well.
Kerala to Mumbai
Date of journey: July 11
We applied for two transit passes - Tamil Nadu and Karnataka - as we travelled from Kerala to Maharashtra. We got the Tamil Nadu e-pass and Karanataka pass from Seva Sindhu almost immediately. It took us one day to get the e-pass for Maharashtra.
We stepped out of the vehicle only before entering Bengaluru, where we were issued hand stamps as transit passengers. It took us 30 minutes as parking was a little far. Luckily, there was no queue.
At all the other checkpoints, we were just asked for the vehicle number. We showed the e-pass sitting in the car.
Since it is a long journey and tough time, pack whatever food you need so that you do not have to get down anywhere. We carried coffee and cup noodles, and prepared them in the car using an electric kettle. Carry cans of water and soap, too.
While we used the washroom at petrol stations, we tried to limit touching any surface.
A group on Telegram portal is also helping interstate travellers with their queries.
(*Names changed on request)