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SOPs for tourism: Covid teams, health questionnaires & staggered entries

Tourists, who will need to pre-book their travel and also fill in a health questionnaire prior to the visit, will be screened for symptoms at all entry points. While details of the questionnaire will be shared with a doctor, the Aarogya Setu app will be recommended.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | July 20, 2020 1:30:31 am
covid-19 in maharashtra, covid lockdown in maharashtra, maharashtra tourism, maharashtra sop for tourists, maharashtra lockdown relaxation, indian express news A Covid-19 team will be empowered to decide if the tourist spot should remain open only for a few hours each day, with staggered entry to avoid crowding. (File)

As Maharashtra looks at restarting tourism in the state, senior citizens above the age of 65, pregnant women and children below 10 are likely to be “advised” against travel, The Indian Express has learnt.

Draft guidelines or standard operating procedures (SOP) are being prepared, mandating local authorities, police officers and management of the tourist destinations to set up “Covid-19 teams” that will be in constant touch with visitors, and ensure that hotels and tourist spots follow all sanitation and health protocols.

A Covid-19 team will be empowered to decide if the tourist spot should remain open only for a few hours each day, with staggered entry to avoid crowding.

Tourists, who will need to pre-book their travel and also fill in a health questionnaire prior to the visit, will be screened for symptoms at all entry points. While details of the questionnaire will be shared with a doctor, the Aarogya Setu app will be recommended.

The draft guidelines also advice those above 65, pregnant women and children below 10 to avoid tourist spots.

From July 1, the state had reopened its government-run resorts and hotels in non-containment zones and some sanctuaries but a fresh spike of cases in some districts and the resultant lockdown there have impacted further reopenings in the sector.

The government is now planning to ease into a phased reopening, as it could also turn out to be a revenue generator. It has worked with tourism industry stakeholders, health experts and authorities to design the new SOPs and health protocols to support the sector’s recovery.

“The tourism and hospitality sectors are among the worst-hit by the lockdown. With case load continuing to rise, the prospects of an early recovery seems uncertain. The SOPs are aimed at rebuilding trust and enhancing consumer confidence, while ensuring utmost safety of tourists and workforce,” an official said.

For the next six months, the government expects only tourists from within the state to visit. Foreign nationals are not expected in the ongoing fiscal, given the flight restrictions and the health emergency.

The state has come up with draft operational guidelines for each tourism vertical. As part of the draft SOPs, the management of the tourist destination has been asked to put up clear signages encouraging social distancing and hand washing. Tourists arriving in groups or as a family can move around together, but will have to maintain social distancing with other groups or individuals visiting the same spot.

In accommodation units and bed and breakfast facilities, the government has advised contactless room service. It has ruled that guests won’t be allowed to invite visitors to their room. All common touch points are to be frequently disinfected. Staff and tourists are expected to wear face shields/masks at all times. The guidelines also mandate that CCTV cameras be functional and cover each area.

At locations providing accommodation, furniture, common areas and toilets are to be disinfected regularly. The managements have been asked to sanitise rooms after every departure and avoid allotting the same room to anyone else for the next 24 hours. As far as transport is concerned, isolators should be used for drivers to separate them from passengers.

It will also be mandatory for tourists to inform the tour operator if he or she had tested positive within two weeks of coming for the trip. Tourism service providers have been asked to conduct regular training drill for social distancing, disinfection and other safety precautions.

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