HP govt ignores Centre’s orders, continues mandatory registration on e-COVID portal for those entering state

The Centre on Saturday had asked all states and Union Territories to not put any restriction on the movement of persons and goods, with Union Home Secretary conveying this to all states and UTs

Representative Image (courtesy: Twitter)
Representative Image (courtesy: Twitter)

Bipin Bhardwaj

Giving a quiet burial to the Union government's directives to all states and Union Territories (UTs) on free inter-state movement of persons and goods, the BJP-led Himachal Pradesh government has decided to go ahead with present mandatory registration on e-COVID portal for those seeking entry to the state. The government, however, has given a little relief to the hotel Industry by raising the mandatory COVID-19 negative report for tourists to 96 hours from 72 hours and exempting children below 10 years from this.

The Centre on Saturday had asked all states and Union Territories to not put any restriction on the movement of persons and goods. Noting that such restrictions amount to violation of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla in a letter to all the Chief Secretaries of all the states and UTs mentioned that there were reports of restrictions on movement being imposed by various districts and states at the local level. The unlock guidelines clearly say that there “shall be no restrictions on the inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods”, the letter reads.

In the letter, Bhalla reminded that no separate permission, approval or e-permit would be required for the movement of persons and goods for

cross land border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries, saying that the restrictions amount to “violation of guidelines issued by the MHA”.

The Himachal Cabinet that met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Monday took the decision to continue with the current system of mandatory registration on e-COVID portal.

The Deputy Commissions have been directed to speed up the approvals for e-registration as this did not amount to violation of the central government's directives. The mandatory five-day hotel booking for tourists too has been reduced to two days. It has also been decided that if any guest tests positive in a hotel, it will not be sealed and only the room, restaurant or the area he has visited will be sealed.

Hit hard by the COVID-19pandemic, the hoteliers of the state, however, have expressed their resentment against the state government's decision. The hoteliers demand that the condition of a mandatory COVID-negative test report must be done away with. They say that states including Rajasthan, Kerala and Goa that see huge influx of tourists have no entry restrictions and Himachal Pradesh should take a lesson from them to boost tourism in the state.

Members of the Tourism Industry Stakeholders’ Association, who met the Chief Minister, said in a representation to him that tourists were facing harassment due to a lack of clarity on the part of the implementing authorities. “Tourists are unwilling to visit Himachal. They have to procure a negative COVID-19 test report for every member of the family. Most of them do not want to prolong the stay,” the representation reads.

Mohinder Seth, general secretary of the association, said “After Unlock-3, some hoteliers opened their units with the hope to get some business. But due to stringent rules, tourists are hesitating and not visiting the hill state.”

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