'Cannot Lower Our Guard': Centre's 2nd Warning on Crowding at Hill Stations

"All the gains can get reversed. We can't afford this kind of laxity," VK Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog, said.

2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Tourists visit the Mall Road after relaxation in COVID-19 curfew, in Manali, Saturday, 3 July.</p></div>

The Centre on Friday, 9 July, once again issued a warning against crowding at tourist spots in the country, stating that people should not be lowering their guard.

"We cannot lower our guard. A new risk is being seen at tourist spots where crowds are gathering. Social distancing and mask protocol is not being followed. This is a serious concern," VK Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog, told reporters on Friday at a briefing.

According to NDTV, Paul further said that this was a concern as these people will return and possibly infect others.

"All the gains can get reversed. We can't afford this kind of laxity," Paul said.

"Isn't this an open invitation for the virus to come and infect us?" health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said during the same press briefing, reminding that the country is still dealing with the second wave of COVID-19.

Officials also played the visuals emerging from tourist spots at the briefing, terming them a cause for concern and reminded people about the spread of the virus in crowded places.

However, the officials said that no case of the Lambda variant of COVID-19 has been reported in India so far, but stated that as a variant of interest, its public health significance is being actively tracked.

On Tuesday, too, the Centre had warned that crowding at hill stations and markets without adhering to COVID safety protocols can render the management efforts of the health crisis ineffective.

It had stressed that violating COVID protocols will results in an increase in the infections and emphasised on the importance of covering faces with masks and maintaining physical distancing.

Tourists Make a Beeline for Hill Stations

Amid the soaring summer temperatures in the northern parts of the country, people are running for the more comfortable climates of Manali, Shimla, Kufri and Dalhousie, among others.

Pictures of tourists flocking to Himachal Pradesh, crowding roads in Manali, and bathing at the Kempty Falls in Mussorie, have flooded social media, even as the country gears up to face an imminent third wave of COVID-19.

With COVID-19 restrictions for travellers relaxed in the state, which relies heavily on tourism, the crowds thronging the hilly regions have attracted concerns of public health safety.

A senior police officer of Himachal Pradesh called the crowds in Manali "tourism with a vengeance".

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