Himachal PradeshNorth India

Tourists take a brave step amidst omicron to celebrate a snowy Christmas in Himachal

Hundreds of tourists are rushing to the hills to witness the snowfall.

The two recent things happening in Himachal are fresh snowfall and the rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mandi on Dec 27. But both these activities have raised concern over a fresh Covid-19 outbreak in Himachal Pradesh. The influx of tourists happening in the state might be a huge problem in the coming months.

The snowfall predicted by the Indian meteorological department of India has hugely attracted tourists to visit Himachal Pradesh. Tourists from all over India are flocking into the most popular destinations in search of a Winter Wonderland. Even the cold wave that has taken over North India isn’t stopping people from traveling to Himachal. Also, the deadly omicron and multiple alerts by the center to follow the covid-19 protocols have utterly failed to keep the tourists away from the major destinations in Himachal Pradesh. Apart from all this, the state is ready and all geared up to welcome the festive season. The arrival of tourists picked up since last weekend at Shimla, Manali, and Dharamshala beside other tourist places in Himachal Pradesh that are closer to Punjab and Haryana.

Even though it seems like Himachal is still on the safer side as no Omnicron case is detected but the festive time ahead is worrisome. Nearly 25,000 tourist vehicles are entering the state every day as per official data. The alert sounded by the union health ministry asking the state to restrict and enforce regulations on gatherings.

Manali and Shimla are major hotspots for those craving snowfall. Shimla, the state’s capital which attracts 15,000 to 20,000 tourists almost every day. The newly built Rohtang tunnel is also a major attraction for all people looking for snowfall adventures

The travel advisory and guidelines laid by the Lahaul-Spiti police on Wednesday permitted the movement of all the tourist’s vehicles to Lahaul valley up to Sissu till 3 pm only. Also, restrictions have been put in place.

“All tourists are required to return to Manali via the north portal by 4 pm,” says Manav Verma, SP Lahaul Spiti.

The prominent 164-year-old Christ Church has been spruced up for the prayers as the local Christian community is preparing for Christmas in Shimla.

“Mid-night service may not take place this year given Covid-19 but the Church will remain open for the prayers to visitors and local community,” as mentioned by a functionary of the Christ Church.

Meanwhile, the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Himachal Pradesh where he is slated to address a massive rally of the BJP has raised concerns over the breaching of new guidelines.

The guidelines issued by union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan specifically advise the state government and UTs for strategic interventions on large gatherings, which also include marriages and funerals.

“We have written to all DCs and Chief Medical officers (CMOs) in the district, apart from heads of other health institutions, asking them to take all necessary steps enlisted in the union home secretary’s letter,” Said Awasthi.

Awasthi also added that the state is also keeping a close watch on the foreign returnees and other travelers for cases of Omicron. The best part is that Himachal is 100 percent vaccinated (both doses), the hill state finds itself at an advantage in the face of a fresh Covid- 19 outbreak. “The emerging situation, however, may require further strategic interventions,,” Awasthi concedes.


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