The state government of Sikkim on Saturday (19th September) announced that all tourism businesses will be allowed to resume their operations starting from 10th October. This includes all homestays, hotels, and other tour and travel businesses that were closed since the beginning of the lockdown.
Another decision was made by the government which mentions the opening up of its border with the state of West Bengal in the East. This would mean that all vehicles will have unrestricted access to travel to and from the state of Sikkim. The borders will be opened starting from 1st October.
The SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) are yet to be announced to the public. These SOPs will include all the safety measures that will be implemented by all tourism-related businesses. The safety guidelines will be the tourists as well as for the hotels and other tourism businesses. These guidelines will be helpful in the prevention of the COVID-19 and also containing the spread of the virus.
According to the officials, the hotels can start their booking services from 27th September. It is expected that before the 27th of September, the safety guidelines will be released.
The limiting of vehicles on the road was also introduced in Sikkim during the lockdown. It is expected that the rule will continue to be applied for all the private vehicles.
Also, a complete lockdown from 21st to 27th September will be imposed to contain the COVID-19 spread in the state. This is also to prepare for the upcoming unlocking starting 1st October. During this lockdown, the vehicles will not be allowed to enter or exit the state borders.
Also, during this period, all government offices will operate with 30% occupancy of their staff. All shops will remain closed except for the ones that come under the ‘Essential Business’ category.
Local businesses desperately need tourism to recover their businesses from the financial stress caused by the lockdown. It seems to be a balancing act of trying to revive the economy and to safeguard the local population from COVID-19.
The state Sikkim has a lot to offer for the tourists seeking the peace and quite of the mountains. The state is rich in its natural bio-diversity and scenic landscapes. The following YouTube video from the channel ‘mandirachhetri’ gives a glimpse into the natural landscapes and beauty of the state of Sikkim.