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Tourists flout COVID-19 norms in Kasauli and Dharamshala, government issues warning

Since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in Himachal Pradesh on June 14 last month, tourists have been rushing to the hills to get some respite from the heatwave in north India and a break from their mundane lives. 

Recently, what created concern was when a large number of tourists were seen violating covid norms in Kasauli and Dharamshala amid the scare of new variants popping up every day and creating a  threat for the third wave. 

As happy as locals are with people visiting the state, the authorities are concerned that it might lead to an increase in covid cases in the state.

Satish Kumar, a junior engineer in Kasauli told ANI that it is mostly crowded during the weekends.”During the weekend, the number of tourists in Kasauli is double. It is very busy from Friday to Sunday. From Sunday to Thursday it is quieter. The police are quite active and are issuing challans to all tourists who are not following mask protocol. People are slowly recovering from the financial losses they suffered during the lockdown,” he was quoted as saying. 

With such a huge gathering, social distancing has gone for a toss in these tourist destinations. Hundreds of tourists were seen without masks in Dharamshala, violating COVID-19 protocols, the news agency reported. 

On Friday (July 9), Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had urged tourists to follow COVID-19 norms. Thakur told ANI, “We are concerned about the number of tourists coming to the State. Tourists are welcome here but I appeal to them to follow COVID19 norms.”

CM Jairam Thakur also assured that the instructions to regulate the crowd have been issued. “We need to save the tourism industry also. I held a virtual meeting with districts officials and directed them to monitor and regulate the crowd. COVID-19 is not over yet. Hotels are being asked to follow SOPs,” he added. 

Joint Secretary of Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal on July 6, addressed the problem of tourists visiting hill stations in bulk and warned people. “People travelling to hill stations are not following COVID-appropriate behaviour. We can nullify the ease in restrictions again if protocols not complied with,” he said.  

Meanwhile, since the pictures of visitors thronging Kempty falls went viral, the Uttarakhand authorities have decided to restrict the number of visitors to 50 and a negative RT-PCR report will be required for people visiting Mussoorie. 

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