Himachal Pradesh CM not thinking of mandatory Covid test for outsiders

Himachal Pradesh CM not thinking of mandatory Covid test for outsiders

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has ruled out making Covid-19 test mandatory for the outsiders, particularly the tourists, entering the state in the wake of massive spike in the positive cases. He also says there is no move to impose any lockdown in the state.

Night curfew in four districts –Shimla, Mandi, Kullu and Kangra will remain in force apart from tough regulations on wearing masks, social distancing and public gatherings, social, political and religious functions, Thakur made it clear on Sunday.

The state High Court, which has shared its serious concern on sudden spurt in the Coronavirus cases, had suggested the government to consider suggestion given by Bipin Negi, amicus curiae in this regard as a step to contain the pandemic spread faced, particularly in the month of November.

The High Court on a PIL taken up in its suo moto action based on media reports had lashed out at the government over Covid-19 situation and a high function of deaths in the hospitals.

The Chief Minister said "We respect the court and suggestions extended to manage the spread of the Covid-19. I feel currently the threat was not from the persons coming to the state but internal. Earlier restrictions on the borders were to check transmission of the disease to locals. The challenge now is to check the spread within the local communities."

Thakur said the High Court had also observed that the people themselves were to blame for becoming careless and not adhering to the protocols like wearing of the masks and social distancing.

"We will examine all the suggestions being made by the High Court and those practical and feasible will be implemented. The objective was overall improvement in facilities for the Covid management," he said.

The Federation of Himachal Hotels and Restaurants has hailed the Chief Minister for clearing the confusion on restrictions being imposed once again at the borders, which the hotels' body claims, have caused immense harm to the tourism industry in the state. The hotel bookings have already dropped to 35 to 40 percent due to farmers dharna at Delhi borders as only 60 to 65 percent hotels had resumed the operations.

"The news speculating about Covid-19 tests being made mandatory of the tourists will lead to complete collapse of the tourism sector ahead of the winters," said Ashwani Bamba, a leading hotelier at Dharamshala.

Meanwhile, there is no let-up in the increase of Covid-19 positive cases and deaths, already exceeding 725-mark and total cases 44,650.

As Shimla has already become a Covid-19 capital of the country with rate of infection exceeding 183 percent, former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, his wife and son Vikaramaditya Singh have moved out of the town and shifted to a relative's house.

This was after five of his staff members, including a former advisor to CM, T G Negi tested positive for the Coronavirus, besides ex-CM's PSO.

"Virbhadra Singh ji have left Holly –Lodge (Shimla residence) to his brother-in-law's house at Kuthad, near Kasauli, along with his wife Pratibha Singh and son Vikramaditya Singh, who is MLA from Shimla (Rural)," said an aide.

Incidentally, the former CM is on dialysis, making him a high risk person as far as Covid-19 is concerned. However, the test reports of Virbhadra Singh, his wife and son have been tested negative.

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