26th June 2020 – COVID – 19 has almost engulfed the entire world and not showing signs to end soon. Under the aegis of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration(GTA) the hills are to be opened for the tourists from 1st of July. Tourists will have to follow the Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) issued by the Central Government.
In the hills, the economy is primarily driven by tea and tourism. Along with tourism its ancillary services like taxis, shops, restaurants, handicrafts and local markets is badly affected due to COVID pandemic. The central government has already issued instructions to open the sector from 8th June. Now GTA has decided to open the sector from 1st July keeping in mind the livelihood of the locals.
Safety and Precautionary measures to be taken are-
a) Thermal screening points will be set up at different entry points like Simulbari which will check tourists coming to Darjeeling, Mirik and Kurseong. Similarly one will setup at Kalijhora for tourists coming to Kalimpong, Sittong and Mungpo. Thermal screening points will also be done in hotels/ home-stays where tourists check-in.
b) Medical Fitness Certificate from the place of origin of the tourists is also required.
c) When tourists check-out the hotel will keep the room empty for 24 hrs and the same will be sanitized. Regular sanitization of the hotel premises along with tourist spots will also be done.
d) Masks will be mandatory for everyone.
e) Vehicles will be allowed to carry passengers @ 50% of its capacity.
Tourist spots like Tiger Hill, Rock Garden, Gangamaya Park and other tourist spots of Darjeeling will open on 1st July.
It is learnt that hotel and home-stays are getting lot of enquiries for booking, however, they are unable to confirm due to lack of proper guidelines.
Looking forward to the Queen of Hills to show the days of the tourism industry in the hills.