The crisis isn’t over yet in any way. The pandemic continues to rage. And with reports suggesting a new ‘highest single-day spike’ every other day, it inevitably makes you wonder—why the rush to reopen? According to researcher Gautam Menon, beyond a point, it’s difficult to sustain a lockdown that has gone on for a long time, especially economically, socially and psychologically. As restrictions ease, we are slowly getting used to the new normal. Several states that depend on tourism for their economy have finally opened their borders for visitors.
Here’s a comprehensive list of all the states that have lifted the ban on tourism so far.
This hilly state is the latest to join the list of states that have allowed the entry of outsiders and visitors. According to a statement by Chief Minister Jai Ram Manjhi, “it has been decided to open the state for tourism and the tourism department will issue standard operating procedures(SOPs)”. The state government has made it mandatory for tourists to show test reports for negative COVID-19 upon entry. Additionally, the report must also be furnished from an ICMR-recognised lab. The inter-state movement is expected to be monitored through registration with a COVID e-pass.
The Uttarakhand government recently opened its borders for visitors from inside and outside the state, including international travellers. However, the Chardham Yatra will remain restricted only to devotees from within the state. In order to enter, visitors will be required to submit medical reports at the checkpoints. The government has also directed hotels and homestays to accept bookings for a minimum of five days. As a standard protocol, tourists will have to present a negative COVID-19 report, not older than 72 hours, from an ICME-recognised lab, upon arrival. International tourists will be required to undergo seven days of institutional quarantine and seven days of home quarantine.
As the hippie haven opens it borders for domestic tourists, here’s what you need to keep in mind. After a period of nearly three months, the hospitality sector in Goa is finally back to business. Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar stated that almost 250 hotels can now resume operations with standard operating procedures put in place. There are also certain guidelines issued by the state government in three phases—before travel, during travel and upon arrival. It has been made mandatory for tourists to pre-book their stay at hotels and homestays that have received the tourism department’s approval. Guests are required to present a negative COVID-19 report from the last 48 hours. Interestingly, while hotels have been given the green signal, restaurants have to operate on a takeaway basis and bars continue to remain shut along with several beach shacks.
Another state that thrives on tourism, Rajasthan has entered a new phase of easing restrictions. Several monuments and tourist spots recently reopened their gates to visitors with all pomp and show. In order to further increase the footfall, the government has decided to waive off entry fees to these monuments for the first 15 days. Rajasthan is home to 342 protected monuments and since the reopening nearly 1,400 people have already visited these sites. The resumption of tourism was marked by several cultural performances at venues like Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Albert Hall among many others. The monuments will be open for four days a week—Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and social distancing protocols have to be maintained by visitors. The government has issued SOPs to the management authorities directing them to practice sanitisation, social distancing and thermal screenings. Masks have been made mandatory and tourists will be allowed to enter only in groups of five.
Soon after Rajasthan announced the reopening of popular tourist spots, the next state to follow suit was the land-locked region of Madhya Pradesh. The state government recently announced the opening of tourist activities along with reopening of state-run hotels and resorts. However, one of the major highlights of this unlocking was the directive by the forest department to reopen all national parks in the state. Madhya Pradesh is nothing less than a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and is home to 11 national parks and 24 wildlife sanctuaries including Panna, Ratapani and Bandhavgarh National Park. According to a statement by the state tourism board, Madhya Pradesh is heavily invested in inbound tourism and opening tourist attractions would give a sense of ‘returning to normalcy’. The board is also offering RV caravans to help maintain social distancing while visiting the state.