A road trip from Pune to Mumbai with Savaari during COVID 19

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Pune, 30 July, 2020: When India started reporting COVID 19 cases in large numbers, one by one all states decided to shut down. So when a strict nationwide lockdown was enforced, I was unfortunately stranded in Pune with no means to get back to Mumbai. The flights were canceled, borders were sealed and inter-district movement was strictly curbed to stop the spread of the pandemic. However, fortunately, unavoidable travel was still permitted under certain strict regulations and circumstances.

Hence, I started digging up some information on “unavoidable travel”. And these are some of the steps I followed to reach Mumbai during COVID 19-

  1. I got a COVID test done
  2. Got a sanitized Pune to Mumbai car rentalbooked from one of India’s reliable car rental companies
  3. I applied for an e-pass online
  4. Wrote a self-declaration letter stating I do not live in the containment zone and attached my medical report along with the e-pass. You also have to fetch the vehicle number, so if you are traveling in a cab, ensure that you have the vehicle number before applying for the e-pass.

Savaari quickly responded with the vehicle number after the booking confirmation mail and greatly expedited the e-pass process. In 2 days, I had everything I needed to be on the road. A fully sanitized Savaari cab pulled over in front of my Pune flat on the select date. The cab driver wore a mask, there were two water bottles inside the cab along with a bottle of hand sanitizer for me to use. Both the driver and I practiced social distancing and I loaded my own luggage in the boot of the car. Rolling the windows down, we were now on our way to Mumbai. I was also asked to carry a soft copy of the travel e-pass with me for the various checkpoints we will be crossing en-route.

It was during my conversation with the driver that I found out that Savaari Car Rentals is offering COVID insurance to its drivers and customers for as low as Rs. 443 with complete coverage of Rs. 50,000, valid up to 1 year. He added that many other drivers like himself do not have the privilege of “working from home”, and the whole COVID situation has had most of them struggling to make ends meet. Therefore, this insurance helps them avoid any additional financial burden in the near future. I was blown away by this idea. Kudos to team Savaari for making life easier for its driver patrons.

Just how much COVID has changed our lives was felt throughout the trip. This road trip was so different from all the previous ones I have taken in the past. There were no short coffee breaks. I did not stop at a roadside eatery for a plate of misal pav or vada pav. Seeing the roads deserted, restaurants and public places closed down, I wondered how much has changed in the last 15 days. I also crossed groups of migrant workers who were going back to their hometowns on foot – a sad side of the on-ground reality of COVID 19 lockdowns.

We crossed 3 checkpoints where we were asked routine questions. My e-pass was checked and I was also asked to present my COVID negative report. Hence, it is advisable to not plan a trip unless you have a travel e-pass, COVID negative report and a self-declaration in hand. I was fortunate to get a driver who helped with the routine questions and very patiently cooperated with police formalities. With no traffic on the roads, I reached home in 2 hours. And once home, I immediately quarantined myself. It was a relief to be finally home all safe and sound. Hopefully, when things get better, I will hire one of Savaari’s Mumbai to Pune cabs and return to Pune safely to resume work.