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India has seen 'retaliatory' tourism and experts fear a third wave of the disease

Date: 2021-07-15

India is in peak tourist season, and people have been heading to the mountains to escape the summer heat since conditional restrictions were lifted across the country at the end of June. This has created huge problems for local epidemic prevention, transportation and accommodation.

Highway traffic in the mountainous northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh has been severely congested in the past few days due to the high number of tourists. In many tourist spots, people do not wear masks and do not observe the requirements of social distance. Health experts in India have warned that failure to comply at this point could lead to a third wave of the disease arriving quickly.

According to Uttarakhand police records, nearly 4,400 vehicles have been stopped from entering the mountains because their occupants did not have a negative nucleic acid test and proof of hotel reservation. Traffic jams into Uttarakhand were reported to last several hours over the weekend. With the influx of tourists in Uttarakhand, the state's chief minister has said it is mandatory that hotel occupancy should not exceed 50%.

Another mountainous state, Himachal Pradesh, has also seen an increase in tourist numbers, especially at weekends, when the local government has to deploy more police in the mountains. More than 1.3 million tourists have visited Himachal Pradesh since May, according to the state's tourism department. About 600,000 people have come to the state since the end of June, when COVID-19 control requirements were relaxed. Nearly 10,000 vehicles entered the mountains on July 10 alone. Hotel occupancy rates in Himachal Pradesh, which were almost zero at the height of the epidemic, have risen to 80%.