5,000 Cars In 36 Hours! As Himachal Relaxes Covid Curbs, Hordes Of Tourists Line Up

Himachal Pradesh witnessed a massive traffic jam on the Shimla-Kalka railway near Parwanoo in Solan district after the state government relaxed the COVID restrictions and revoked the compulsion of a negative RT-PCR report.

Nearly 5,000 vehicles queued up on the hilly roads on Sunday, June 13, with tourists from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, etc.

The state government has mandated a COVID e-pass and directed the tourists to adhere to the COVID-related guidelines, including wearing masks and following social distancing all the time.

Netizens called out Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and termed the government’s decision ‘irresponsible’ amid the growing speculation of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Expressing concerns over the rising cases, many urged people to avoid travelling and help bring down the virus upsurge in the state.

Though the state reported a decline in the number of daily infections and fatalities, the question of relaxing the restrictions stands still. Experts have emphasised time and again the lockdown advantages in decreasing the caseload.

While many scrutinised the government for revoking the compulsory RT-PCR test report, some spoke about the relief it would bring to the state’s tourism sector, shadowed by the pandemic since 2020. This year, the industry suffered a big blow, especially after February, after tourists arrivals reduced by 60 percent.

According to the media reports, hotels in several districts, including Shimla, Manali, Mcleodganj, and Dharamshala, received numerous cancellation requests ever since reports of the second wave of the pandemic emerged.

The pandemic not only affected the tourism economy and many other sectors that support and are supported by the industry.

Sigh Of Relief For Employees

Speaking to WeJan, a senior official of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) informed that the government’s decision would help resuscitate the sector. In addition, it’s come as a sigh of relief, especially for the Class-III and Class-IV employees of the corporation.

Many employees had faced salary cuts for months or lost jobs. Even the hotels that were converted to quarantine centres didn’t generate enough. The employees can hope to receive their pending salaries, and some might even get employment opportunities. Tourist guides who were hopeless about the revival of opportunities can now look ahead.

Besides economic support for hotels, it would help the retail shops, transportation services, entertainment venues and other attractions, the official added. “The state exchanges would grow, and the government’s pilot project of homestays would regain its strength,” he said.

While the hotels with government undertaking still sailed through the year, losses continued to mount for the private sector. The official said the decision would also cater to the private entities and soften the blow.

Safety On Priority 

Although this has brought several advantages along with it, the government must keep the COVID-related rules and regulations a priority and ensure the sector recovers responsibility from the pandemic, the official said. He said the hotels have been directed to follow the guidelines laid down by the government.

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