DMs to be responsible if Covid situation worsens: Uttarakhand issues fresh SOP
- According to an SOP issued by chief secretary Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, district magistrates can take strict action against tourists found flouting Covid-19 norms, including wearing of masks, maintaining social distance, and sanitising hands.
Influx of tourists to hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh has raised serious concerns among the authorities as fears of an imminent third wave of the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease lingers. With weekend crowds on the rise, the Uttarakhand government has now made district magistrates responsible to ensure the situation in tourist spots does not worsen. According to an official order issued by chief secretary Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, if the situation worsens in the tourist places of Uttarakhand, the district magistrate will be held responsible.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) on the matter has also directed the DMs to ensure that tourists mandatorily follow the Covid-appropriate behaviour vis-à-vis wearing of masks, maintaining social distance, and sanitising hands. “They (DMs) have been authorised to take decisions regarding the crowds on weekends,” the SOP read.
In the order, Sandhu said the percentage of tourists to be allowed to move or visit a tourist place will be decided on the basis of its capacity for “crowd control and the geographical conditions,” or else the DMs will be “free to decide whether to impose any restrictions”. According to an ANI report, DMs have also been given the charge to take strict action against any individual who flouts the Covid-19 norms.
The Uttarakhand police sent back as many as 8,000 vehicles during the weekend from popular tourist locations of Nainital and Mussoorie. Check-posts have also been set up at the state borders to control the tourists’ rush.
Over the last few days, images of tourists roaming around in Mussoorie without masks and maintaining social distance had gone viral on social media. While locals have raised concerns over the matter and feared a possible arrival of the third Covid-19 wave, the ICMR had called the visuals “frightening”. During his meeting on Tuesday with the chief ministers of northeastern states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called the tourists’ rush in hill states as a “matter of concern”.
The Uttarakhand government has extended the Covid-induced lockdown till 6am of July 20. The state administration has also made Covid-19 negative report of a maximum period of 72 hours mandatory for entering the state.