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‘Quarantine Tourism’ and Opening Hotels in Himachal Bad Idea: Hotel Associations

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Himachal Pradesh Opening hotels and quarantine tourism

Shimla– The Shimla Hotel & Restaurant Association on June 2, 2020, held a video conference with the Secretary and Director of the State Tourism Department, DTDOs, and Presidents of all associations concerning the hospitality industry of Himachal Pradesh.

The conference was held following the State Government’s announcement regarding opening of hotels for people visiting the State for non-tourism purposes from June 8.

The Association termed Chief Minister Jairam Thakur’s plan of “quarantine tourism” in Himachal Pradesh as a bad idea that would put the safety of the people at a risk. It’s pertinent to mention that a couple of weeks ago, the Chief Minister had suggested that to boost the industry, hotels can be opened for people, within and from outside the State, who are quarantined. This idea of the CM had drawn flak from not only the oppositions but also from the people.

“As far as quarantine tourism is concerned, we from the Industry do not feel it would be a good step for tourism in Himachal Pradesh. This could be unsafe for the employees, our properties and most important our citizens in towns and villages,”

said Sanjay Sood, President of Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association. 

This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the hotel industry-supported Chief Minister’s decision to close borders of Himachal to tourists, which we felt was the right decision as we all were concerned for our employees and citizens of our state, Sood said.

Since cases are on the rise in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Punjab etc. Himachal should not consider opening hotels, at least, till the end of August or September unless a vaccine for the treatment of COVID-19 is available, Sanjay added.  

Now, that most parts of the State are safe and the tourist season – April, May and June- seems to have been lost due to the pandemic, the State should not open its borders for tourism as the cases are going to increase manifold in June and July, he said.

“We should not consider opening tourism in Himachal Pradesh till we have normalcy in domestic and international air traffic and all inter-state borders are opened. We suggest we should try to boost tourism in the State in August or September and start marketing the beautiful state for wellness tourism, adventure tourism, environmental tourism, cultural tourism, health tourism, religious tourism, culinary tourism,”

Sanjay said.

Also Read: Impossible to Pay Salaries & Wages to Staff With Zero Cash Flow, Says Hotel Association, Seeks Relief from CM Jairam Thakur

He said that meanwhile, the hotels would get a time of two to three months to train their staff to deal with guests and at the same time keep themselves safe in these challenging times of a pandemic.  Sanjay suggested that the State Government would need to focus on projecting Himachal as a safe destination and include members of all hotel associations of the State to do so.

The Association gave following suggestions to the State Govt

  1. Advertisements on Netflix and other popular TV channels which are currently popular.
  2. Advertise in theaters like PVR, SRS etc once they open.
  3. Advertise in newspapers and popular magazines concerning domestic and international travels.
  4. The most important step for the State Government should be to take along three to five members of all hotel associations of the State and hold roadshows, exhibitions, dinners with popular travel houses in all metros and cities of India to showcase Himachal as a haven for visitors.
  5. State Government would have to bear all costs including travel and stay of members of the association’s members.
  6. There are bodies like a travel trade fair, both domestic and international, where the State Government needs to coordinate and organise roadshows exhibitions etc.
  7. All fees for exhibitions that take place in various destinations should be waived off for hotels and the Government would have to take care of the expenses.

Earlier, on May 23, a delegation of Himachal’s hotel and tourism industry headed by Vikramaditya Singh, MLA, Shimla (Rural), had met the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, seeking relief for the dying industry in the State due to the lockdown.

Reliefs Sought from the State Government by the Hospitality Industry

The delegation sought-following relief measures for “survival and revival” of tourism in Himachal  :

  1. Financial package is given to all hotels to cover business losses incurred during lockdown period by way of interest-free loans from State co-operative Bank and other state-owned banks, waiver of interest on existing term loans / CC limits availed from various banks and extension of existing term loans and CC limit with no requirements of fresh/additional collaterals.
  2. No electricity and water charges should be taken from hotels which are presently lying closed since lockdown.
  3. All fixed taxes, cess, license fees, govt. rentals should be waived for lockdown period from April 2020 that are being charged by the government of HP.
  4. The government should pay minimum wages to all Hotel employees during the lockdown . There are about 50,000 employees in tourism units of private & govt. Sector. The total amount will be less than 50 crores per month which should be paid by way of direct transfers to all employees of tourism units.
  5. GST should be reduced to 9% for 2 years after the opening of lockdown to encourage the revival of tourism in Himachal. Hotels should be allowed to charge 9% as ‘ COVID – 19 surcharge’ to the bills of visiting customers in room and food charges to make up for the losses in sales during the lockdown.
  6. Completion of Tourism linked infrastructure should be expedited like helipads, National and State highways, link roads etc.

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: COVID-19 Claims 116 Lives in 25 Days, Still No Concrete Strategy to Combat Community Spread

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himachal pradesh covid-19 community spread

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh didn’t get any respite from rising number of fatalities on September 25 too. Seven more patients succumbed to the infection. These deaths were reported from Shimla (2), Solan (2), Chamba (1), Siramur (1), and Hamirpur (1). The patients included six males and one female aged between 35-66 years.  According to the Health Department, two of the deceased were patients of diabetes mellitus.  (View details of the deceased below). So far, 152 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

Further, according to the official report, a total of 293 cases were traced yesterday. The official tally had reached 13679 till 9:00 PM yesterday. (Scroll down for district-wise statistics).

Despite the onset of community spread, the state hasn’t come out with any projection of the actual number of cases and deaths. There is no word on a strategy for combating community spread and minimize the casualties. Of the total 152 deaths traced by the government, 116 casualties were reported in the last 25 days of the September month. On average, the state is reporting four COVID-19 casualties per day during the current month.

Meanwhile, Dr Lokender Sharma, who was removed from the position of the Medical Superintendent, DDU, Shimla, following a suicide of a COVID-19 patient, has come out with statements which refer to the callous attitude of the state Health Department and its higher officials. He said that there was no negligence on his part and that he was ready for any inquiry. He said the higher officials are washing their hands of responsibilities by putting the entire blame on hospital administration and doctors. He again referred to the shortage of staff and his repeated reminders to the department regarding the same. However, it’s pertinent to mention that the actual cause of the suicide was yet to be ascertained.

Govt Not Prepared for Peak Period of COVID-19 Spread: Sanjay Chauhan

The incident has led to protests from oppositions who allege ill-preparedness of the government in combating COVID-19. Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a leader of Communist Party of India (M), said that the incident highlights miserable state of and mismanagement at the COVID-19 hospitals. He said there is an acute shortage of health staff including doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff at the DDU hospital. More than 30 percent of posts are vacant at the hospital, he added.

The government has been claiming it an achievement to receive 500 ventilators, but there is no staff to operate them, he said. He said that the leaders of the ruling government are also criticizing the miserable state of the COVID-19 hospitals and asking to fix it.

“Instead of formulating any concrete plan to attend to this issue, the government is emphasizing on ‘Havans’ which is unscientific. It clearly displays the backward and unscientific approach of the ruling party,”

Chauhan said.

He said that the government should prepare a strategy to combat the spread on a war footing and constitute a task force under able leadership. The Chief Minister should call for an all-party meeting to gain their support  to ensure appropriate preparedness to combat the peak period, he said.

Chief Minister Focused on PM Visit ahead of Rohtang Tunnel

The Chief Minister, however, did preside over a “Media Plan” meeting yesterday pertaining to the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the State on October 3, 2020 to inaugurate Atal Tunnel Rohtang.

Chief Minister directed the officers to ensure elaborate arrangements for installation of LED screens at different locations for the live telecast of the event. He directed the authorities to make special arrangements for the VVIP visits. He said that appropriate hoardings must be installed at different sites including district headquarters. A proper media centre with the internet and other facilities must be established to facilitate the media persons, he directed the officials. 

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 25, 2020 (9 PM)

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 deaths on september 25, 2020

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Himachal: 10 COVID-19 Deaths in Single Day Take Tally to 145, DDU MS Replaced Following Patient Suicide

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Shimla-DDU covid-19 patient suicide 2

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh reported 10 COVID-19 deaths on September 24, 2020, which took the state’s death tally to 145. This is the biggest single-day-spike in the fatalities – a matter of huge worry amid community spread. Kangra district reported the highest six deaths while Shimla, Chamba,  Sirmaur, and Kullu reported one death each. The deceased including eight males and two females were aged between 55-78 years. At least five of these deceased were patients of diabetes mellitus.So far,

So far,  Kangra district has reported the highest 37 deaths, followed by Shimla (24), Solan (23), Mandi (20), Una (10), Sirmaur (10), Chamba (8), Hamirpur (6), Kullu (5), Bilaspur (1), and Kinnaur (1).

Go through the reasons of deaths given by the state Health Department below:Himachal pradesh corona deaths Sept 24

According to the official update, 337 new positive cases were registered yesterday. The total for the state has now reached 13,386. (Scroll down to view statistics for all districts)

DDU MS Replaced After COVID-19 Patient Suicide 

As part of the damage control, the Medical Superintendent of Shimla’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital, Lokender Sharma, was replaced after a COVID-19 patient committed suicide inside the hospital premises. Dr Ramesh Chauhan has been appointed as the new MS.  The case has led to protests against poor facilities and mismanagement in COVID-19 hospitals in the state. The opposition even staged a protest on September 5.

Reacting to his removal, Dr Lokender denied any negligence on his part and said he had been working with insufficient staff and limited facilities. He also alleged that the administration did not consider his repeated complaint regarding the same. Himachal Pradesh Medical Officers Association (HMOA) has also pointed out that the state government has not done anything to chalk out a comprehensive strategy to deal with the pandemic. They also pointed out the lack of trained staff.

These developments, including a sudden spurt in the fatality rate among COVID-19 patients, are now exposing the poor preparedness of the state government. The government doesn’t seem to have any clue about controlling the spread. There is no data on the projected number of actual cases as it is not possible to trace all infected amid a community spread.

While there is a dire need to make more efforts to save lives, the government and the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur appear to be busy in preparing for the visit of the Prime Minister Narender Modi for the opening of the Rohtang Tunnel.

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 24, 2020 (9 PM)

DDU COVID Patient suicide in himachal pradesh

Feature Photo: [email protected]

 

 

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Five More COVID-19 Deaths, Three Suicides, Shimla’s Kotkhai Nagar Panchayat Sealed

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shimla kotkhai nagar panchayat sealed

Shimla– Five more COVID-19 casualties were reported in Himachal Pradesh on September 23, 2020. According to the official update from the Health Department, a total of 280 cases were reported till 9:00 pm today . The COVID-19 death tally is rising at an alarming rate with the onset of a community spread. Currently, a total of 135 persons have lost their lives due to COVID-19.(Scroll down for district-wise statistics)

These deaths were reported from Solan (1), Kangra (2), and Mandi (2). The deceased aged between 58 years to 77. Read the reasons for deaths below:

Shimla- kotkhai nagar panchayat sealed

Kotkhai Nagar Panchayat Sealed for Four Days

Kotkhai Nagar panchayat of Shimal district was sealed today after four persons tested positive at the CHC, Kotkhai. However, there is one case which has increased worries for both the people and the administration.

According to the BMO, Kotkhai, one of these persons, identified as Kavinder Kanwar, runs a car parking at the Kotkhai Bazaar. He also runs a newspaper distribution agency in the same area and deals in mobile recharge business. He frequently handles keys of cars parked in the parking as part of his routine task, it was informed.

“It is quite possible that the concerned positive person has also surely visited several shops and public places in Kotkhai bazaar during the last four days. In this situation, it is difficult to find out the exact contact tracing history due to which there is a high risk of surface transmission and risk of a direct contact person to person,”

informed the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Theog, in a notification issued today.   

Therefore, the administration has declared the entire Kotkhai Nagar panchayat as containment zone and sealed it except for essential services for four days (till September 27th).

The local police have been directed to restrict any entry to or exit from the area. The BMO has been asked to undertake contact tracing and the Secretary of the Nagar panchayat area has been directed to sanitize the entire area.   

COVID-19 Positive Woman Ends Life at DDU, Shimla

A woman, who was tested positive for COVID-19, and was admitted to the DDU hospital, Shimla, ended her life on the intervening night of September 22-23. The exact reason for the suicide was yet to be ascertained.

Further, two suicides in Kangra district have been associated with the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the deceased worked at a fuel station.  The second person was a cab driver. According to the English daily, The Tribune, he had recently received a notice from the bank over non-payment of his loan that he had taken to buy a cab. These suicides are indicators that the people are in dire need of relief from the state government. 

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 23, 2020 (9 PM)

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 Fatalities on september 23

 

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