Over the weekend, the Uttarakhand Police sent 8,000 tourists back from Mussoorie and Nainital to avoid overcrowding amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, according to reports. Border checkpoints have also been set-up by the police to control the flow of people visiting famous tourist locations.
“After videos went viral of huge crowds bathing in Kempty falls, the Uttarakhand government has taken steps to control the number of tourists. People have been given notices to carry negative RT-PCR reports and register on the online portal,” said Uttarakhand Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Nilesh Anand Bharane, the Hindustan Times reported.
He also urged visitors to consider alternative locations, such as Bhimtal, Ranikhet, and Landsdowne, rather than congregate in just one or two places. The move has come as state governments gradually relax lockdown restrictions, raising concerns about Covid protocol violations in hill locations.
The Uttarakhand government has directed district magistrates to keep weekend crowds under control in all tourist areas. Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, the chief secretary, released the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Monday.
“If the situation worsens in the tourist places of Uttarakhand now, then the District Magistrate will be responsible. They have been authorized to take the decisions regarding the crowds on weekends,” the guidelines released by the state government said.
The DMs have been given the authority to determine the percentage of tourists who will visit a location based on its geographical characteristics and the administration’s ability to regulate crowds.
The Uttarakhand government stated in its decision that district magistrates will take stern action against anybody who disregards the rules.
According to the SOPs, all visitors from outside the state shall be admitted only if they have a negative RT-PCR, True Net, CBNET, or Rapid Antigen Test for a maximum of 72 hours.
The Covid curfew in Uttarakhand has been extended until July 20 by the Uttarakhand government. Weddings and funerals have also been limited to 50 individuals.