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After the photos, the numbers: over 32,000 in Nainital for weekend, 20,000 in Mussoorie

Official figures show 35,425 tourists reached the outskirts of Nainital and 32,000 more travelled to Mussoorie in Uttarakhand over the last weekend as Covid figures dipped across the country.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun |
Updated: July 13, 2021 7:13:47 am
Officials attributed the rush to the fact that there was a weekend lockdown in place across the state from April 22 to June-end to tackle the second wave of Covid.

AFTER THE photos of crowds at hill stations without masks or social distancing, which prompted the Centre to issue an alert, the numbers are out.

Official figures show 35,425 tourists reached the outskirts of Nainital and 32,000 more travelled to Mussoorie in Uttarakhand over the last weekend as Covid figures dipped across the country.

Of these, 32,900 tourists were allowed to enter Nainital and 20,000 to Mussoorie while the rest were turned back on various grounds, ranging from not carrying a Covid-negative report or proof of hotel booking to failure to register on the state government-mandated portal.

Officials attributed the rush to the fact that there was a weekend lockdown in place across the state from April 22 to June-end to tackle the second wave of Covid. “Tourist footfall at the hill stations shot up in the first weekend of July by at least four times as compared to June,” said an official.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Mussoorie SDM Manish Kumar said: “All the documents were checked at borders and only those who fulfilled the conditions were allowed in Mussoorie. Still, there were tourists who were carrying negative RT PCR reports but not wearing masks…Rapid Antigen Tests were done for them to create awareness about the importance of Covid-appropriate behaviour. Over 150 such tests were done on Saturday and Sunday, and all tested negative.”

On July 9, taking note of reports from hill stations, the Ministry of Home Affairs held a meeting with eight states, including Uttarakhand, to warn that the second wave wasn’t over and that they should “ensure strict adherence to the protocols prescribed…”

According to Uttarakhand’s Covid protocols, it is mandatory for visitors from other states to register on the Dehradun smart city portal, and carry a Covid-negative report from a test conducted within the past 72 hours. These reports are mandatory even for people visiting the hill areas from other parts of the state.

On July 9, Dehradun District Magistrate Ashish Kumar Srivastava issued an order that only tourists with confirmed hotel bookings, negative Covid reports and registration on the portal would be allowed entry to Mussoorie till 8 am on July 12.

According to police, 3,900 vehicles were denied entry to Mussoorie on July 11 and at least 415 tourists issued challans for violating Covid protocols on July 10 and July 11. Police also collected Rs 74,400 in fines from tourists for violation of Covid norms and traffic rules. Officials estimated that the number of challans issued over the weekend was almost thrice the number from past weekends.

Circle Officer Narendra Pant said over 9,500 vehicles had reached Mussoorie in the first weekend of July — on July 3 and 4.

Nainital recorded the entry of 9,466 vehicles from last Friday to Sunday, while 2,491 tourists and 918 vehicles were denied entry for failing to meet the criteria. SSP Preeti Priyadarshini said “day visitors” were not allowed to enter the city area on the weekend.

Providing an estimate of the weekend crowd, Sandeep Sahni, who heads the Uttarakhand Hotels Association, said over 90 per cent hotels in Mussoorie and Dehradun were occupied on Saturday and 60 per cent on Sunday. “Tourists have already started advance bookings for the next weekend,” he said.

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