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Himachal Chief Minister’s Warning On Overcrowding

'Want Tourists But...': Himachal Chief Minister's Warning On Overcrowding

People out on a street in Manali in Himachal Pradesh after Covid curbs were eased. (File)

New Delhi:

After huge rush of tourists to Shimla and other hill stations caught the nation’s attention amid concerns over a third coronavirus wave, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur today warned against the violation of the government-mandated norms such as social distancing and wearing of masks.

“We want tourists to visit our state but they must follow Covid protocols,” the Chief Minister was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

“Recently, a number of tourists towns including Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala saw a high tourist inflow. We have ordered districts to deploy police force to regulate and monitor traffic and warn people against venturing into rivers during rains,” Mr Thakur said.

Underscoring the efforts made by the state government to handle the recent influx of tourists, Mr Thakur added, “At places where tourists are in large numbers, enforcement of Covid protocol is being done. We’ve also asked hotel associations to implement SOPs for the functioning of hotels.”

Tourists have been flocking the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh as mercury soars in other northern states.

What medical experts dubbed as “revenge tourism” increased after the state eased curbs on travel as fresh surge in coronavirus cases dropped over the last few weeks, largely seen as the retreat of the deadly second wave.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that gross violation of Covid appropriate behaviour by tourists is a “cause of concern”. Emphasizing on the importance of following Covid protocols, PM Modi said, “It is true that tourism, business and business have been greatly affected due to coronavirus… but today I will say very emphatically that it is not okay to have huge crowds in hill stations and markets without wearing masks.”

NITI Aayog’s Dr VK Paul also warned people about the potential risk caused by the influx of tourists.

“This is a cause of concern as these people will return and can infect others. The time is not quite there to be completely normal. All the gains (in the fight against Covid) can reverse. We can’t afford this kind of laxity. There needs to be a continuous campaign against Covid,” Dr Paul said.

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