In a welcome respite for tourists and tour operators in the region, the government in the neighbouring state of Sikkim has finally decided to allow interstate movement of people without any requirement of registration with effect from 1 October.
The government there has also decided to permit hotels, home stays and other tourism related services to operate from 10 October, according to a notice issued by the Principal Secretary of the Home Department of the Sikkim government, R Telang.
According to the order, there will, however, be complete lockdown in the Gangtok Municipal Corporation from 21 to 27 September.
According to the order, stakeholders of the tourism industry will be able to start bookings from 27 September.
“…Prior to that (opening of the tourism sector), it is considered expedient to take special measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 within Gangtok Municipal Corporation area,” the notice states.
The government has decided that the state tourism department, in consultation with the health department, will ready the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for tourists and to revive the tourism industry.
The order states that the health department will issue Covid-19 protocols for free inter-state movement of people with effect from 1 October. “Even inner line permit for foreign tourists having valid visas shall be issued from 10 October,” it says.
Notably, helicopter services in the Himalayan state will also resume from 1 October, while odd-even restrictions for movement of taxis and passenger vehicles will also be lifted from 10 October, the notice says. It, however, adds that the odd-even rule for private vehicles will continue.
It may be mentioned here that the West Bengal Government has already decided to resume tourism-related services, including hotels and restaurants, to open in Darjeeling and Kalimpong Hills.
The Himalayan Hospitality & Tourism Development Network (HHTDN) in north Bengal had earlier requested Sikkim Chief Minister PS Golay to re-open the state for tourists.