Shimla | Jagran News Desk: The visuals of tourists crowding the streets of Manali in Himachal Pradesh took the Internet by storm in recent days, prompting concerns about potential surge in COVID-19 cases as the pandemic-related protocol was kept at way. Following the shocking visuals, Union Health Ministry wrote to Himachal Pradesh government over rampant flouting of COVID appropriate behavior in Manali and state capital Shimla, news agency ANI reported its sources as saying.

After Union Health Ministry’s letter, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur directed hotels in the state to follow all Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

"We are also a bit anxious as the tourist influx increased in the state. We welcome tourists but I urge them to follow Covid norms. They should follow social distancing and wear a mask. We have also directed hotels to follow SOP strictly," Thakur was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Can place restrictions again if COVID protocol isn’t followed: Union govt

Earlier the Union health ministry said on Tuesday that it can again put in place the restrictions if COVID protocol is not followed.

"People travelling to hill stations are not following Covid-appropriate behaviour. We can nullify the ease in restrictions again if protocols not complied with," Health Ministry’s joint secretary Lav Agarwal government’s COVID-19 press briefer.

Earlier, the chief secretary to Himachal Pradesh government, Anil Kumar Khachi, had said that the state government had advised all District Collectors to enforce Covid appropriate behaviour amongst the locals and tourists alike.

"We have already unilaterally advised all district collectors to enforce the Covid appropriate behaviour and guidelines strictly, taking all service providers and stakeholders into confidence," Khachi had said.

Six to seven lakh tourists in less than a month: HP Tourism

Himachal Pradesh’s Tourism department said in a statement that the tourist influx in the state increased significantly as relaxations in the COVID-related restrictions came as the cases started to decline in parts of North India.

"Last year we received only 32 lakh tourists including foreigners. This year till 31 May, we received only 13 lakh tourists. But now in June after the restrictions have been relaxed, we have received six to seven lakh tourists within this period,” Himachal Pradesh tourism department director Amit Kashyap was quoted as saying by ANI.

(With inputs from agencies)

Posted By: Mukul Sharma