The big question on everyone’s mind!!
You might have just scrolled over a few headlines or read the articles about the state governments reopening Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand for tourism. And yes they have. Both the governments have come up with a set of guidelines to initiate the reopening of these states for tourism. In fact some tour operators have also opened bookings for treks starting as early as August. However, is it already safe for you to travel ?
Let us understand what the ground reality is in the current situation.
At present , the number of active cases in Himachal Pradesh are a little over 1100 while the same for Uttarakhand is 3100+ active cases, which is currently manageable with the existing health infrastructure. Now , pre COVID, if you would have visited Himachal Pradesh, here is what you would have shortlisted as your go to list :
Kullu-Manali(20 active cases), Shimla(95 active cases) and Kangra(109 active cases) districts, Kinnaur(11 active cases), Lahaul and Spiti(0)
The districts in Himachal which have highest number of active cases are Solan, Sirmaur , Kangra , Shimla and Mandi.
So from this list although it seems that Kullu Manali , Lahaul Spiti and Kinnaur could be sensible destinations to choose from, there is a problem. The Kullu Manali Hoteliers Association along with the Local Panchayats have decided to keep the accommodations closed till the end of September keeping the safety of the entire region in mind, which seems to be the best decision for the time being. Hence it is advisable to entirely avoid Kullu Manali . The situation is similar in Shimla where most of the owners have decided not to open the accommodation facilities. However some of the hotels in Shimla are open when we called to check and it is better if you can book directly calling the hotel reservation rather than booking through any aggregator.
In case you decide to travel here is what you need to keep in mind :
Here are some of the key points that you need to know:
- You will need to furnish a ICMR certified COVID negative certificate within 72 hrs of entry in these states as well as in the hotels.
- For Himachal Pradesh, you need to plan for 5 days of holidays and register on the portal(https://covid19epass.hp.gov.in/).
- The e-pass website for Uttarakhand website has 3 day and 7 day pass for tourists. The hotel booking receipt and the negative COVID certificate needs to be uploaded to receive the e-pass.(http://smartcitydehradun.uk.gov.in/pravasi-registration)
- Public transport to these states have not been opened yet, but you can definitely take a road trip. Homestays and hotels outside the state’s containment zones will be open for business.
- Download the Aarogya Setu app.
- Those visiting the state from outside India will have to register themselves on the web portal and undergo a period of seven days each in institutional and home quarantine.
While we all have been craving to go out breathe the fresh air in the hills, being responsible during these tough times is the least we can do. It’s monsoon time and several areas are prone to landslides and COVID-19 has not slowed down yet. We will definitely get back to travelling and sooner rather than later. But until then let us exercise some precaution and wait till the end of September.