Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, June 14
Following the opening of state borders for tourists without RT-PCR negative report, Himachal Pradesh Police on Monday issued an advisory asking the tourists to wear face masks, maintain social distance and follow Covid guidelines or face action.
“We welcome all the tourists entering the state and advise them to abide by the norms. However, the violators would attract a fine of Rs 500 at first instance and repeat offenders would be arrested and may be sentenced to eight days imprisonment or fine of Rs 5,000 or both as per the provisions of the HP Police Act," the advisory cautioned.
There has been a surge in tourist arrival in Shimla and as many as 5,000 vehicles entered Shimla through Shoghi border in 36 hours from June 12 (8 am) till June 13 (8 pm) while the data for today is still awaited.
People were fed up due to lockdown and curfew and want to breathe fresh air and those who have been vaccinated or survived Covid-19 are looking for an outing.
Moreover, people in the plains are rushing to the hills of Himachal to get relief from sultry heat.
The occupancy on this weekend touched 30 per cent which is further expected to go up to 60 per cent in the coming week.
About 25 per cent online bookings have poured in while 25 per cent tourists are walk in, says president of Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association Sanjay Sood.
“We have appealed to the hotel owners to abide by the standard operating procedures (SOPs) like wearing of masks, proper sanitisation and avoid overcrowding so that tourists feel safe and comfortable,” said president, Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association MK Seth.
The tourism industry which suffered heavy losses in peak summer season in 2020 and 2021 are hopeful that with relaxation on restrictions, industry would be able to cover up the losses to some extent.
After a long gap, the Mall and the ridge was abuzz with activity as tourists strolled at these places.
Shimla is a beautiful place with ideal weather and the tourists can enjoy and roam, however temples are still closed, said Richa Jain, a tourist from Delhi who was given a mask by the Shimla police after a monkey snatched her mask.
“We were anticipating tourist inflow after the restrictions were lifted and ten reserves have been deployed in the district (seven for corona curfew and three for internal mobilization) besides 200 police personnel on traffic duty as flow of traffic has also increased. Police patrolling parties are on the ground to guide the tourists,” said SP Shimla Mohit Chawla.
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