Planning A Trip to Hills Amid COVID: What Documents Will I Need?
As Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand reopen their doors to domestic tourists, here’s what you need to know.
After being under lockdown for more than three months, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have decided to allow the entry of outsiders and tourists into the state. However, the state governments have listed a series of guidelines for the tourists to follow, including a COVID-19 negative test, if people wish to visit.
So, here's all you need to know if you are planning on visiting the hills of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand amid the pandemic.
Is it safe to go on vacations and trips right now?
Not really. The number of cases across the country is spiking every day, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recommends that people step out of their homes only for essential purposes.
How is the COVID-19 situation in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand?
The number of people infected with COVID-19 in Himachal Pradesh is comparatively low as compared to other states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and many others
As on first week of August, there was a total of 2,923 total recorded in Uttarakhand, while 1,140 cases were registered in Himachal Pradesh.
Should I get tested for coronavirus before visiting the hills?
As per both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh governments, yes. The order says that tourists should have been tested for COVID-19 by an ICMR-accredited laboratory not earlier than 72 hours at the time of entry.
But, how do I get a COVID-19 test if I do not show any symptoms?
The Centre has advised states and UTs to enable all qualified medical practitioners, including private practitioners, to prescribe coronavirus test to any individual fulfilling the criteria for testing, as per ICMR guidelines.
Therefore, first, you need to get a doctor to prescribe a test. If you test negative, you can use that as your COVID-negative certificate.
Are there restrictions on booking a place of stay?
- Anyone visiting these states should stay for at least 5 days or more
- Only those with prior hotel bookings with at least 5 days will be allowed entry
But what if I have my own place? How do I show booking?
In case you have your own place, you need to show relevant documents/address proof at point of entry into the state.
Do I need an e-pass to enter these states via road?
I will be taking a road trip from Delhi to the hills. Will I be stopped on the highway?
No, you will not be stopped on the highway. However, you are allowed to make stops only at authorised kiosks for amenities and refreshment.
What about the ‘Char Dham’ yatra? Can outsiders visit?
No, as of now, only those from within Uttarakhand can undertake the ‘Char Dham’ pilgrimage.
What happens when I return to my home state? Will I have to undergo quarantine?
Yes, you have to undergo quarantine as per your state's protocol.
For example, if someone from Delhi visits Himachal, then on return they have to undergo home quarantine for 7 days.
However, if they show symptoms on arrival, they will be sent to institutional quarantine. This would differ from state to state.
What precautions should be taken by individuals while visiting public places?
- Face covers/masks have to be worn at all times.
- Physical distancing of at least six feet to be maintained as far as feasible.
- Spitting shall be strictly prohibited.
- Do not enter a store/restaurant/beach if it is crowded.
What are the general precautions that I must follow when in a hotel/restaurant or resort?
- Room service to be encouraged, instead of dine-in.
- The staff for home deliveries shall be screened thermally by the restaurant authorities prior to allowing home deliveries.
- Seating arrangements to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained. In restaurants, not more than 50 percent of seating capacity to be permitted.
- Disposable menus are advised to be used.
- Instead of cloth napkins, use of good quality disposable paper napkins to be encouraged.
- Buffet service should also follow social distancing norms among patrons.
What happens if a tourist tests positive for coronavirus in the states they are visiting?
The government has not issued clear guidelines on this. However, if a person tests positive for coronavirus in the state, they are most likely to be quarantined there until they recover.
Watch this space for more.
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