Himachal Pradesh govt takes notice of overcrowding amid COVID-19, limits gathering in open spaces

New Delhi: After several pictures of tourists thronging Manali went viral leading to the central government expressing concern about the violation of COVID-19 norms, the Himachal Pradesh government on Wednesday (July 7) took notice of the situation. The state government has instructed local authorities to ensure COVID-appropriate behaviour to stem the transmission of the virus, IANS reported. 

The decision was taken at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur in Shimla. Making certain relaxations, the cabinet allowed a maximum of 200 persons in closed spaces. While in open spaces, gatherings are permitted with 50 per cent capacity of the area.

On Tuesday, Joint Secretary of Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal had warned that restrictions can be reimplemented if COVID-19 violation continues in hill stations. “People travelling to hill stations are not following COVID-appropriate behaviour. We can nullify the ease in restrictions again if protocols not complied with,” he was quoted as saying by ANI. 

After Centre’s rap, Thakur urged tourists to comply with COVID-19 protocols. He told ANI, “We are also a bit anxious as the tourist influx increased in the state. We welcome tourists but I urge them to follow COVID norms. They should follow social distancing and wear a mask. We have also directed hotels to follow SOP strictly.”

Among other decisions taken during the state cabinet meeting, the children who lost both parents in the pandemic will now be covered under Mukhya Mantri Bal Uddhar Yojna, enabling them to get additional monthly assistance of Rs 1,500.

The government has also given consent to increase the additional honorarium of the Accredited Social Health Activist (Asha) workers from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,750 per month, which will benefit 7,964 workers.

The cabinet also decided to keep the schools closed for students till further orders and to continue with online study. The first-year and second-year students of graduation will be promoted to next class. The new and renewal of admissions would start in the colleges in the last week of July and the academic year would start from August 16.

(With agency inputs)

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