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Himachal lifts coronavirus restrictions, tourists could visit again

Tourists strolling around at the Main Square McLeod Ganj, India, on 24 June 2021.

Tourists strolling around at the Main Square McLeod Ganj, India, on 24 June 2021. Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 25 June 2021

The Himachal Pradesh government announced lifting most of the coronavirus restrictions, allowing shops and restaurants open, and tourists enter the state without any hassle.

In a late-night decision on Tuesday, 22 June, the government decided to lift all the restrictions — imposed in early May — with immediate effect.

Shops will be allowed to open from 9am till 8pm, while the restaurants/dhabas and bars will be allowed to remain opened till 10pm.

Restrictions for travellers has also been eased. Tourists and other commuters are now allowed to enter the state without the e-pass or negative RT-PCR report.

Tourism is the main contributor to the economy of Himachal Pradesh, after agriculture and pharmaceutical industry. The tourism sector contributes 7% to the GDP of the state.

The coronavirus pandemic brought the tourism industry to a standstill, and caused a massive job and revenue losses. There was up to 80% decrease in tourist arrival in the state up to December 2020 since the pandemic began.

The state closed its borders for tourists in April due to the rising number of coronavirus infection cases during the second wave of the pandemic. The infection cases have declined in the last one month after various measures were taken, including the imposing Corona Curfew. Since then the situation has improved in the whole of Himachal Pradesh.

Kangra District reported 20 new cases on Thursday, 24 June, showing a declining trend in coronavirus cases in the state. The infected people are being isolated as per the protocol. The total infections reported in the District since the pandemic is 45,738, and the number of deaths from Covid-19 is 1,026.

Although the peak tourist season is almost over, the time when people in the plains of India reeling under heat waves escape to the cooler mountainous regions, it may still bring some relief to the ailing industry.

McLeod Ganj, experiencing pre-monsoon rains, is seeing arrival of tourists from neighouring states.