Himachal Pradesh has allowed entry of toursits about three-and-a-half-months after a ban was imposed to check the spread of the novel coronavirus. Resultingly, hill lovers from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have thronged the highway causing Parwanoo barrier jam-packed.
Fearing spike in COVID-19 cases in the state after Unlock 2.0 guidelines by Ministry of Home Affairs, Himachal government had requested exemption and asked for e-pass mandatory for visitors but the request was turned down. Instead to regulate visitors, the state has resorted to e-Covid registration compulsory at http://covid19epass.hp.gov.in
Two days back hill state government had issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) which mentions the requisites to make a visit the state for visitors:
• Toursits must register himself on the e-Covid portal 48 hours before entering the state. E-pass is not required.
• If they are planning to stay for five or more days in a hotel, they are required to furnish a Covid-test report which must have been done 72 hours before entering the state. Such tourists will be exempted from quarantine norms.
Opening of Himachal Pradesh’s borders has seen large influx of visitors many of whom were unaware of the SOPs.
• Many were refused entry as lacked COVID-19 test report.
• Many visitors were made to undergo on-spot registration which was supposed to be done before entring the state. It caused hundreds of vehicles queuing up at the barrier. Details like Aadhar card number, type of vehicle, purpose, reasons for entering the state etc are required to be filled in the form. The form is then scanned on the state’s e-Covid portal as well as on the district’s portal.
• Not just toursits, there were residents of various districts like Sirmaur, Kinnaur, Shimla and Solan, who were waiting to come home.
• Trucks carrying apples to Delhi and other areas also added to the traffic. Since apple harvesting has begun, the movement of trucks is expected to increase further in the coming days.
Parwanoo police upped the manpower to deal with the overwhelming traffic jam.
There have been increased queries from interested visitors from Delhi and Punjab who own summer cottages in the hill state.
Authorities Sceptical about those coming from Red Zones
While the authorities were sceptical about those coming from red zones like Delhi, there is no mechanism to check whether such people abide by the 14-day home quarantine norm or not. This could trigger the spread of disease, officials feared.
Weekend visitors from Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab have started pouring in Kasauli and Barog giving kick-start to state tourism.
The authorities, however, could not physically verify whether tourists, who entered the state for a few hours, had returned or not.
New Source & Image Credits: The Tribune