SOP issued, but Himachal hoteliers say won’t resume operations

Fear safety of residents, staff as no decline reported in Covid cases

SOP issued, but Himachal hoteliers say won’t resume operations

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 10

Despite Tourism and Civil Aviation Department issuing guidelines for hotels and restaurants to resume operations, the owners from across the state have refused to start business, fearing for the safety of the residents and their staff members.

Can’t risk lives

Since the situation is still not under control, we have decided not to resume business as we cannot risk the lives of the people living in the vicinity of our hotels or our staff. — Sanjay Sood, president, Shimla Hoteliers Association

Various hotel associations from Shimla, Kullu-Manali, Dharamsala, Dalhousie and Kasauli, after holding a video meeting, have declined to resume operation.

Sanjay Sood, president of Shimla Hoteliers Association, said even the hotel staff was reluctant to return to work.

“Since our hotels are located amidst thickly populated areas in Manali, we have decided not to open as we cannot put their lives to risk,” said Anup Thakur, president of Hoteliers Association, Manali. He added that the government must come out with a plan to promote safe tourism. Hoteliers have demanded that the government will have to give them more relief if they are keen to resume the tourism sector.

The 28-page Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) issued by the Tourism Department for hospitality units talks of setting up of a rapid response management team, check in and check-out protocol for guests, room service, proper communication, training of staff, display of educative posters and providing amenities like sanitizers, masks, gloves and thermal guns.

Interestingly, the SOP has a protocol for handling suspect and positive cases as per the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines. The SOP also has cleaning and sanitation norms for restaurants and transport of employee to ensure complete safety.

The stand of the hoteliers in Dharamsala-McLeodganj is the same. They too expressed their reluctance to resume operations, pointing out that when the state borders are not open for tourists from outside, they cannot open hotels for two per cent guests from Himachal, who too are not travelling these days.

Shimla Deputy Commissioner Amit Kashyap has convened a meeting of all hoteliers and home stay, restaurant and dhaba owners on June 11 to discuss the preparedness before they throw open their doors for guests. So far the government has only allowed people from within the state to stay in hotels who have to travel for business or health reasons.

Although the entire summer tourist season has already been washed out hoteliers and others associated with the hospitality sector are not keen to start business with threat of coronavirus still looming large.

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