Visuals of hordes of tourists wandering without masks or maintaining social distancing at these popular hill stations hit social media forced the Centre to issue an alert.
A whopping 35,425 tourists arrived at Nainital’s outskirts while another 32,000 travelled to Mussoorie over the last weekend amid dwindling Covid-19 infections. The state authorities allowed 32,900 tourists to enter Nainital, while 20,000 tourists entered Mussoorie. The remaining tourists were turned away on grounds such as not carrying a Covid-negative report, failure to register on Uttarakhand’s mandated portal or proof of hotel booking.
Visuals of hordes of tourists wandering without masks or maintaining social distancing at these popular hill stations hit social media forced the Centre to issue an alert. Officials attributed the tourist rush to the weekend lockdown that was implemented in Uttarakhand from April 22 to the end of June amid the second Covid-19 wave. An official said footfall at these hill stations shot up at least four times during July’s first weekend from June.
Mussoorie Subdivisional Magistrate Manish Kumar told The Indian Express that officials had checked all relevant documents at the borders, adding that only those tourists who met all the conditions were allowed to enter Mussoorie. He said Rapid Antigen Tests were also done on tourists who had presented negative RT-PCR reports but were not wearing masks to create awareness about Covid-appropriate behaviour. The state government conducted more than 150 such tests during the weekend and turned up negative results.
According to the Covid-19 protocols of Uttarakhand, visitors from other states have to register themselves on the Dehradun smart city portal. They also have to carry a negative Covid-19 report with the test being conducted no more than 72 hours before the visit.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on July 9 held a meeting with eight states, including Uttarakhand, and warned them that the second COVID-19 wave was yet to pass and said they should ensure the protocols prescribed were strictly adhered to.
Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also referred to these images as a cause for concern, and underlined the need for people to follow Covid-19 protocols in order to ward off a likely third wave. Modi was addressing a meeting with chief ministers from eight northeastern states where he stressed on the need to adhere to basic rules of wearing masks in public, ensuring vaccination, and avoiding large gatherings.