COVID-19 protocols go for toss as tourists throng Himachal Pradesh’s Kasauli, Dharamshala


New Delhi: As tourists are rushing to hill stations in order to get some respite from heatwave in north India, gross violation of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour by these visitors has generated a cause of concern for the authorities. A large number of tourists have thronged Himachal Pradesh’s Kasauli and Dharamshala amid threat of a possible third coronavirus wave. 

As locals are happy with getting some business, it has become a worrisome concern for the authorities. 

Satish Kumar, a junior engineer in Kasauli told ANI that it is mostly crowded during the weekends.”During the weekend, the number of tourists in Kasauli is double. It is very busy from Friday to Sunday. From Sunday to Thursday it is quieter. The police are quite active and are issuing challans to all tourists who are not following mask protocol. People are slowly recovering from the financial losses they suffered during the lockdown,” he was quoted as saying. 

With such a huge gathering, social distancing has gone for a toss in these tourist destinations. Hundreds of tourists were seen without masks in Dharamshala, violating COVID-19 protocols, the news agency reported. 

On Friday (July 9), Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had urged tourists to follow COVID-19 norms. Thakur told ANI, “We are concerned about the number of tourists coming to the State. Tourists are welcome here but I appeal to them to follow COVID19 norms.”

The Himachal Pradesh CM assured instructions have been issued to regulate crowds. “We need to save the tourism industry also. I held a virtual meeting with districts officials and directed them to monitor and regulate the crowd. COVID-19 is not over yet. Hotels are being asked to follow SOPs,” he added. 

Joint Secretary of Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal on July 6, referring to the massive footfall of people in hill stations, warned, “People travelling to hill stations are not following COVID-appropriate behaviour. We can nullify the ease in restrictions again if protocols not complied with.” 

Meanwhile, after pictures of visitors thronging Kempty Falls went viral, the Uttarakhand authorities decided to restrict the number of visitors at the falls to 50. A negative RT-PCR report has also been made mandatory for people visiting Mussoorie. 

(With agency inputs)

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