Himachal Pradesh as a quarantine destination? Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’s recent idea to promote the hill state as a place where people from elsewhere can spend their days in coronavirus quarantine has not gone down well with many.
The Congress on Sunday (May 24) criticised the proposal that the CM suggested could help revive tourism. Even the local hoteliers association is not too keen, saying it will put off regular tourists.
Himachal can be a destination for quarantine in these times, Thakur said in Hindi during a television show.
Thakur said if in the coming days the impact of coronavirus lessens a bit in the entire country and people are advised quarantine for 14-15 days, they could choose Himachal Pradesh.
“We are also considering this,” he said, adding that the suggestion has come from many people who felt that it could boost tourism.
Compared to many other states, Himachal Pradesh has been less severely hit by COVID-19. Up to early Sunday afternoon, 193 cases, including four deaths, were reported in the state. Some districts have just one or two active cases right now.
But with people returning home to Himachal, there are concerns that the cases may increase at a faster rate.
The Congress was prompt to reject the CM’s idea.
“It is not only wrong to present Himachal as a quarantine destination but it may also prove dangerous for the state. The Congress would not accept this decision to give an open invitation to the pandemic,” state Congress president Kuldeep Singh Rathore said in a statement on Sunday.
“It has already become difficult to control coronavirus in Himachal due to the recent spurt in cases and if the state is turned into a quarantine destination, the situation might get out of hand,” he said.
Instead, he suggested, the state should seek a financial package from the Centre.
Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association (SHRA) president Sanjay Sood said regular tourists would stop coming to the state if its hotels are developed as quarantine centres.
“The government should act on the lines of Goa by allowing entry to tourists only after a proper medical check-up,” he told PTI.
“It should make the state coronavirus-free, declare it as such and invite tourists,” he advised.
Sood also suggested that hotels and restaurants with adequate space should be allowed to run as normal serving customers on their premises itself — while maintaining social distancing.
According to one estimate, hotels in Himachal Pradesh have already lost around ₹800 crore due to the nationwide lockdown ordered to combat coronavirus.