After a long break, trekking in Nepal seems to be getting resumed from 17 October. The decision was made on the Cabinet meeting which was initially recommended by the Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC).
As per the government spokesperson and Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali’s briefing on the cabinet meeting, trekking and mountaineering groups are to be allowed to take foreigners up the mountain from 17 October.
Tourism activities including hotels and restaurants had been on halt since March. It’s been six months of inactivity in the tourism industry and the country has taken a severe hit due to this.
On the 21st of July, the government tried to ease the lock-down and the hotels were allowed to open on a certain allocated time. However, soon after the number of cases skyrocketed, and the government was forced to close again on the 20th of August.
International flights were allowed from September 1st with strict protocols. Only 800 passengers were allowed on each day as per the Tourism and Civil Aviation (http://www.tourism.gov.np/np).
Yogesh Bhattarai, the Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister has suggested that a total of 3,000 passengers per day might be allowed to land very soon.
However, to this date, foreigners are still not allowed to travel in Nepal. They are also required to bring an RT PCR negative report which has to be done 72hrs prior to the departure. Though, passengers seem to be unsatisfied with the regulation. They have complained regarding the unnecessarily long waiting time at holding centers upon arrival at Kathmandu.
On 13 September, the government of Nepal loosened the lockdown in Kathmandu Valley. Shops reopened for limited times on certain days of the week. Even public transportation, taxis, and private vehicles are allowed following the odd-even rule.
The odd-even rule implies that vehicles with odd/even numbers are allowed to run according to the Nepali odd/even date.
In Nepal, the tourism industry alone brought USD7 million in 2018-2019. To a small country like ours, it’s 8% of the country’s GDP. That means nearly 2 million used to benefit indirectly from tourism. Therefore, the shutting of travel and tourism has affected a large number of employees in Nepal.
But sadly, the recent reopening of businesses and transportation has raised the cases in Nepal up to 1,500 every day. The majority of them are from Kathmandu. The total cases at the date of writing this are 62,797 out of which 46,267 have been recovered and 401 deaths.
Although, the lockdown has been loosened it’s not necessarily safe. There’s been a lot of complaints of hospitals not admitting patients due to the fear of the virus. Thus, the cases have not yet gotten under control, and the systems here remain unorganized.
The government is compelled to ease the lockdown at this point and it seems to be doing just that. Let’s hope for the best as tourism is getting resumed from 17 October. It’s a mixed feeling that travel agencies carry, but only the future can tell what happens next.
Nevertheless, the cases are still rising regardless of the easing of the lockdown. Businesses or transportations should operate with strict protocols and it’s up to us to be conscious of our health. If not, then the country is one step from the lockdown Phase III.