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Ban on tourists, pilgrims to continue in HP

Shimla: If you are thinking of visiting the hills for its cool climate at the end of the lockdown 4.0, just hold on for sometime.

Even as the state government on Sunday issued detailed guidelines for unlock 1.0, Himachal Pradesh's doors will remain closed for the outside tourists and pilgrims.

As per notification issued by state's Chief Secretary Anil Khachi, all hotels and restaurants have been allowed to start their operations, after a prolonged lockdown ordered on March 24 in the wake of the Coronavirus spread.

But, these relaxations will only apply for the locals, or those visiting the state for any official or business purposes.The hoteliers will not be permitted to make bookings for the tourists from other places.The locals can very well stay in the hotels. The restaurants/dhabas are allowed to serve the food and eatables only upto 60 percent capacity.

"The state government has permitted the conditional unlocking of the tourism sector after taking stock of the situation, and views from the stake holders," said Khachi.

The hoteliers and home stays promoters have been flooded with inquiries during past 12 hours about their bookings and summer packages.

"It is true, I have received lot of calls from the tourists in Delhi and other places asking about SOPs and booking schedules. We will wait for proper guidelines from the state government. Only then, we will take a final call," said Naresh Chauhan, a hotelier at Mashobra.

Chauhan also has home- stays which remains in big demand during summers.

The state government since has not allowed inter-state movements, the commercial tourism activities will remain suspended, said a senior government official.

Same is also for the temples and other religious shrines, which will open to the devotees but not the pilgrims from the other states. The orders will be effective from June 8.

Separate guidelines will be framed for the temples and shrines to allow devotees to visit these places during 'aartis' and other occasions maintaining special distancing norms.

The state government, through a notification, granted relaxations of 14 hours in the curfew –which will remain in force till June 30. The relaxations, earlier allowed only for eight hours, now will facilitate unrestricted movement of the people between 6 am to 8 pm. Only those coming from the other states will be required to get passes from the District Magistrates.

Monday onwards, the state government has also permitted the operation of the inter-district and intra district passenger transport services.

The buses would be allowed to ply with not more than 60 per cent occupancy.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur also reviewed the situation in the state with DCs and SPs and took a decision to allow relaxations and movement of the locals within the state.

The state government offices will also function with full strength from Monday.The officials have been issued guidelines about social distancing and other precautions.

Meanwhile, there was no let-up in the number of fresh Coronavirus cases. The number of cases have already crossed 330. Six members of a family including a two-year old child were tested positive on Sunday.

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