Dubai/Doha: Keralite expats in the Middle East are in a quandary as the COVID-19 pandemic has disturbed travel schedules, vacation plans and crucially job stability. Those who were considering to return to their homeland as coronavirus claimed several lives in the Gulf are now on the horns of a dilemma as Kerala has squandered its early advantage in taming the spread of the pandemic.
As the situation in the Gulf countries is slowly returning to normalcy, Malayalis are reviewing plans to fly back home which is faced with an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases.
Though 5.46 lakh people in UAE had registered to return to India, only 2.06 lakh people have boarded the flights so far.
Even those who are keen to return to Kerala may have to wait further as several chartered India-bound flights that had got permission have been cancelled.
As the curbs on overseas flights eased after the major phase of COVID-19 lockdowns, up to 10 flights daily flew to India from the UAE. This has now been reduced to just one or two in a week. Only Vande Bharat Mission flights now conduct services from Qatar to India.
The number of expats returning from Bahrain has also reduced. Nor is there any demand for the chartered flights from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.
Most of the sectors, apart from public transport services and theatres, have resumed functioning in Qatar. Schools will reopen on September 1. Permission would also be granted for flights from low-risk countries from August 1.
Meanwhile, several outfits are planning to organise chartered flight services from Kerala to the Gulf.