Free entry for tourist or virus?

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Shimla, Sept. 19 Ritanjali Hastir
With Himachal Pradesh ending the e-pass and registration process and allowing free inter-state travel, a large number of tourists from different neighboring states have flocked to the state capital Shimla. On the very first weekend, the historic Mall was crowded with people and it appeared to be any normal day where people had thrown caution to the wind.
Many people were seen casually strolling around without following any SOPs and even the police was missing during the day time to check it’s the proper implementation. Only in Lower Bazaar, shopkeepers were being instructed to use masks but the main tourist attraction site ‘Mall’ was being ignored.


“We have been locked inside our homes for a long time and it is a big relief to be out in open. Himachal is the easiest accessible place for us and even the environment is pleasant too, which makes us run to this place. We are here to have fun and enjoyment” says Vikram a tourist from Punjab.
On the other hand, not many local people seem to be very happy with the free travel as Rajesh Kumar a local resident of Shimla says, “The footfall of tourist is very huge and it seems like jumping in the Lion’s den. Local people are left with no choice but to get locked indoors to stay safe just like we do it to save ourselves from monkeys on normal days.”
The tourism sector people are torn between their bread and butter and their lives as for them the situation is not less than Dharm sankat as shared by one of the hotel owners in dismay, “If we do not have tourist we are financially doomed and if we entertain them, then we are exposing ourselves to the threat of infection. What is the way out for people like us?”
Even though the Central government has issued guidelines to all for free movement, the casual approach on the part of all including the people and administration will augur doom for all. Considering the health facilities in the state the situation seems to grieve in the near future. However, if all act responsibly life might become easy for all.
Inset
The state level hospital IGMC has 80 beds in isolation ward to tackle with the Pandemic situation and presently 66 beds are already occupied. 15 staff members including doctors, nurses, and others have been infected with COVID-19 while attending to their duties.
Principal IGMC Rajnish Pathania while commenting on the current situation says, “There is a bright chance of infection getting spread on large scale and if required we will convert more wards into isolation wards. Government has done its part and now people need to act as responsible citizens as they are not following SOPs.”

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