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Himachal: Tourists from Neighboring States Line Up at Borders, Residents Allege Discrimination in Quarantine Rules  

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Himachal Pradesh - tourist start coming

Shimla: With the decision of Jairam Thakur-led State Government to allow tourist activity and to allow people from other states to enter Himachal Pradesh without obtaining e-pass or permission from district authorities, a beeline of vehicles was seen at the Parwanoo inter-state barrier on Sunday. This led to a traffic jam as over 1700 vehicles including both residents and tourists lined up at the barrier.

A large number of them were sent back from the barrier as they lacked required COVID-19 negative report or had not registered on the e-pass portal.

However, several tourists were allowed to enter the state after verifying their documents and COVID-19 reports, the authorities said.

According to a media report, some tourists reached Kasauli and Barog – popular spots for weekend tourism. They reportedly returned after spending a few hours. Contrary to this, the mandatory condition for tourist entry says that visitors would have to make a booking of a minimum of five days.

Similarly, visitors and returnees had reached other boarders like in Swarghat and Mehatpur. 

Also Read: All SOPs for Hotels, Restaurants, Home-Stays and Others Involved in Tourism Industry

Another issue that the authorities would face is verifying that all tourists who had entered the State returned. Tourist would have to furnish a COVID-19 negative report not older than 72 hours, register on the online portal, and make an advance booking of a minimum of five days. The SOPs have not defined as to how to verify that every single tourists have existed the state after the expiry of the mentioned duration.

Further, residents of the State are questioning the government over discrimination in quarantine rules. While tourist can enter the state and roam around for a few days without being quarantined, the residents would have to follow institutional and home-quarantine strictly even if they have a COVID-19 negative report.

Also Read: Tourist Activity Allowed, Read New Rules for Entering State, Quarantine, Plying of Public Transport

It’s pertinent to mention that the Government is already facing a backlash over its decision to open the State borders for tourists at a time when the State is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases. The hoteliers were also not in favour of opening the State for tourists. The residents are feeling insecure following this decision as they fear it would lead to a bigger coronavirus outbreak. With appearance of 17 new cases yesterday, the the COVID-19 tally for the State had reached 1064. 

Considering the beeline of tourist vehicles merely after 48 hours of the announcement to allow tourism activity, it is clear that tourists are likely to flood the state in the coming days. Monsoon would be the only deterrent currently. What’s concerning is that hospitality industry did not get any time to train staff or arrange all facilities mentioned in the SOPs issued by the State Government. 

The public and hoteliers are of the opinion that this decision was taken in a haste without any consideration for consequences. On the other hand the State Government claims that it had asked the Centre to allow it manage the influx of visitors/returnees in accordance with the current situation. This request, Government said, was declined by the Centre. The Government believes that opening Himachal for tourists would bring relief to those employed in the hospitality industry. 

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HP Govt Makes RT-PCR Negative Report Mandatory for People Arriving from Seven States

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entry of tourists in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Tourist movement to Himachal Pradesh is likely to get hit during the peak season as the state government has made it mandatory for people of seven high load states viz. Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh need to carry 72-hour prior RT-PCR negative report while visiting the State. The restriction would apply after April 16th.

The decision came after Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who had been insisting that there would be no restriction on tourist movement to avert economic losses to the tourism industry, held a review meeting amid a massive surge in new cases and deaths.  

The state government has decided to allow tourists to visit the State, but at the same time, hotel owners and tourists should strictly adhere to the SoPs, Chief Minister said.

“The virus was spreading at a fast pace which was the biggest concern. During the last 45 days, the State has reported 10,690 new covid cases. 120 deaths were reported in the State during the last 45 days,” he said.

Over 900 new cases with 12 fatalities were reported on Saturday only.  On Sunday, according to the Health Department’s daily update, the state recorded 512 new cases. 

Pertinent to mention that Maharastra, Delhi and a few other states had been suggesting that a complete lockdown could be imposed if the high rate of resurgence continued in the coming days.

Though the Chief Minister had been maintaining that lockdown would be the last resort, the tone appears to be changing with the worsening of the COVID-19 situation.

Further, laying stress on twin strategy for testing, tracing and treatment with effective surveillance of micro containment zones, Chief Minister said that greater emphasis must also be laid on RT-PCR tests to achieve the target of 70 percent RT-PCR tests.

He said that the State Health Department must also take steps to increase bed capacity to meet out any eventuality.

Meanwhile, no restriction has been put on the devotees visiting various temples in the State during the Navratri festival.

The government said no overcrowding would be allowed in buses and other public transport and private vehicles. Wearing face masks even in vehicles must be enforced strictly.

Chief Minister, who faced widespread criticism over violation of SOPs during the political campaigning for elections to the Municipal Corporations, blamed laxity shown by the people for a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the State.  

 

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Himachal Pradesh: 662 New Cases & 7 Deaths in 24 Hours, Over 4500 Cases & 55 Deaths in 9 Nine Days

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 report

Shimla– The number of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths in Himachal Pradesh was reported to be 662 and seven respectively on Friday till 7 pm. Kangra district reported the highest 165 new cases and four fatalities, while Sirmaur, Shimla, and Mandi recorded one fatality each.

View details of COVID-19 deaths below:

Daily covid 19 deaths

Source: HP NHM

Solan followed Kangra district with 132 new cases.

Find district-wise details of new cases below:

Daily COVID-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

Source: HP NHM

The COVID-19 case and death tallies have now reached 68173 and 1090 respectively. In April, the state has recorded a huge surge in cases. In the nine days of this month, the state has recorded 4568 new cases and 55 COVID-19 deaths – a rate of more than six deaths per day.

The state government today reviewed the situation in its Cabinet meeting and expressed concern. However, no restrictive measures were taken except extending the closure of all educational institutes till April 21.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been maintaining that a lockdown would be the last resort.

Further, the state government today said that to make vaccination people’s movement, 11th to 14th April may be celebrated as ‘Teeka Utsav’.

The government said that the biggest matter of concern was that the virus was spreading at a fast pace. In addition to this, the number of death has also increased rapidly. All the districts have been advised to enhance their capacity be it bed capacity, quarantine capacity and medical equipment capacity etc.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that strict action must also be taken against those involved in gross violation of SOPs. He said that the hoteliers must also strictly follow the SOPs so that the State Government may not be forced to take action. He said that laxity shown by the people has resulted in sharp resurgence of Covid cases in the State.

It’s pertinent to mention that during the campaigning for the elections to Municipal Corporations, all parties and their leaders including the Chief Minister violated all SOPs without attracting any action. The parties also faced criticism for ignoring public health for the sake of political interests, thus, setting wrong examples for the public.  

Feature Image: Pexels@polina-tankilevitch

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HP Cabinet Decisions: Educational Institutes Closed Till April 21 Amid COVID-19 Surge, No Decision on Other Restrictions

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HP Cabinet decision on curfew

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet today held a meeting in which it expressed concern over the sharp surge in Covid-19 cases in the State. The Cabinet decided to keep all educational institutions closed till April 21. The institutes would also remain closed for teaching and non-teaching staff except the staff required for exam duties till the 21st of this month.

A decision was taken to fill up 311 posts of Forest Guards in the Forest Department on a contract basis through direct recruitment. These include already approved 113 posts of Forest Guards by the State Cabinet during its meeting held on 9th of March this year.   

The Cabinet decided to fill up 25 posts of Agriculture Development Officers on a contract basis in Agriculture Department through HP Public Service Commission against direct recruitment quota. 

It decided to implement the central sector scheme SVAMITVA in the state for surveying the land parcels in rural inhabited areas using Drone technology. For this, Revenue Department would be designated as the Nodal Department for implementation of the scheme with the support of the Panchayati Raj Department. For this, MoU would be signed with the Survey of India for starting the scheme in the State. A State Steering Committee, State Project Management Unit and District Project Monitoring Unit would also be constituted for effective implementation of the scheme.

The cabinet also gave its nod to extend employment on compassionate ground to the eligible indigent of the deceased employees against available vacant posts of Class-III and Class-IV in relaxation of five percent quota as against the available vacant posts of class-III and Class-IV in DC offices of Shimla, Kinnaur, Solan and Kangra and office of Settlement Officer Kangra Division.  

It also gave its consent that the project for the development of multi-storey parking-cum-shopping complex at U-Block Mandi may be awarded under PPP mode to the highest bidder at an annual concession fee of Rs. 63,63,000 plus GST and all other applicable taxes per annum, as per terms and conditions of RFP. The selected bidder would also pay an upfront premium of Rs. 2 crores to the authority by way of five equal instalments of Rs. 40 lakh each for 24 months starting from the compliance date.

The cabinet also gave its approval for the creation of five posts of different categories for each newly created Nagar Panchayats viz Shahpur, Chirgaon, Nerwa, Nirmand, Anni, Kandaghat and Amb for smooth functioning of these newly created Nagar Panchayats.

Presentations were also made before the Cabinet by Jal Shakti Department on the prevailing drought situation in the State. It was decided to hold a review meeting under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister including all the stakeholder departments for further decisions.

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