Amid tourists’ rush, Dehradun, Nainital hotels to run at 50% occupancy
- The decision by Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami comes after visuals of travellers thronging the northern hill state without maintaining Covid-19 norms emerged on social media, sparking concerns over the spread of the virus.
Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami ordered 50% occupancy capping in hotels in the state’s popular tourist destinations – Nainital and Dehradun. “Challans are being issued to those who aren’t wearing masks. We are making efforts and will follow guidelines to contain the spread of the virus,” he told news agency ANI.
The chief minister's orders follow after latest videos on social media showed tourists thronging the northern hill state after coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions were eased. The Uttarakhand government relaxed the travel curbs imposed earlier to check the spread of Covid-19, and even permitted markets to stay open every day barring Sundays. However, markets in Nainital and Mussoorie can remain open on Sundays, and will be shut on Tuesdays.
Visuals shared by ANI on Friday saw several people gathering in another Uttarakhand’s popular destination – Haridwar, for Har ki Pauri. “We feel like we have come out of jail after two years. There is a huge crowd. We are not scared of Covid-19. We came here before the third wave,” a tourist told ANI.
This comes days after tourists were seen roaming around Mall Road in Mussoorie – most of whom were violating Covid-19 norms, including not maintaining social distance and not wearing masks.
Moreover, on Thursday, a video of hundreds of maskless people gathered at Mussoorie’s Kempty Falls had gone viral. Following this, the state government on Friday announced that only 50 tourists will be allowed to gather at the Kempty Falls, and they can only stay there for not more than 30 minutes. Furthermore, a check-post for regulating tourist activity will also be set up, ANI reported.
After visuals of travellers flouting Covid-19 norms, and flocking hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand surfaced the internet, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Dr Balram Bhargava termed them “frightening”.
Union ministry of health and family welfare joint secretary, Luv Aggarwal said, “People, fed up of sitting at home due to restrictions, now seem to believe that if restrictions have been lifted, it means that the virus has ended. The infectious disease is still among us. We need to continue following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. Even a small mistake could prove costly.”
The Uttarakhand administration has also made RT-PCR negative report mandatory for travellers entering Mussoorie from outside states. Tourists need to make online hotel reservations after getting a negative Covid-19 test report, and those without one will be denied entry beyond Kolhukhet.