What are hill stations doing to check Covid amid tourist influx? Centre reviews
The Centre on Saturday reviewed the steps taken by the state governments to check the spread of the Covid-19 cases in hill stations and tourist locations amid a heavy influx of tourists. While Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand have seen a deluge of careless tourists in the past few days, the Centre also enquired about the actions being taken by other states like Goa, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal --- a mix of states which are reporting a higher number of cases and states which are flooded with tourists.
In a meeting, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla warned the states and said that the second wave of the pandemic is not over and the local authorities have to ensure that Covid-appropriate protocols are strictly adhered to.
Tourist influx, fresh threat
With the easing of lockdown restrictions, tourists have started flocking to hill stations of Shimla, Manali, Mussoorie, which has emerged as a fresh threat to the declining Covid-19 trend in the country. Photos and videos circulating on social media platforms show that they are not maintaining social distancing. They are not even wearing masks. The recent video from Mussoorie's Kempty Falls showed hundreds of unmasked people revelling at the falls with no social distancing. The union health ministry has taken note of these photos and videos and said these are open invitations to Covid-19. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his first meeting with the council of ministers raised the issue and urged his ministers to sensitise people without spreading fear.
The threat of a fresh rise will increase if these tourists do not quarantine them upon returning from these vacations.
What are hill stations doing to control crowds?
The onus lies on the local administration as a complete lockdown at this point of time will hurt local businesses.
> After the viral photo, the Uttarakhand government on Friday capped the number of visitors at Mussoorie's Kemply falls to 50. It has also said that these 50 people can not stay at the falls beyond half an hour.
> The district administration of Dehradun has made negative RT-PCR reports mandatory for people visiting Mussorie.
> Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has asked Dehradun and Nainital hotels to cap occupancy at 50 per cent.