Shillong-Sohra road in Meghalaya

It’s raining romance in the ‘wettest place on earth’, yet there are no visitors to regale in the rain at Sohra or Cherrapunjee this pandemic period. The Meghalaya government has decided to allow re-opening of all tourist spots in the state, albeit only for the locals from October 16. With this, there is a sense of expectation and excitement among the local populace as well as people within the state, who have been confined to their homes and immediate vicinity for months on end now.

“All tourist spots/places in the state are permitted to re-open for local tourists from within the state with effect from October 16,” a notification issued by chief secretary MS Rao said.

“The permission is subject to compliance with the standard operating procedure (SoP) issued by the state tourism department and strict adherence to the social distancing protocols issued by the health and family welfare department,” Rao said.

“All entries/organizations/associations that wish to re-open such places should intimate the deputy commissioner confirming adherence to the SoP. Deputy commissioner shall ensure strict compliance to these protocols and guidelines through periodic inspections and regulate the schedule and timing, depending on the local situation and to meet the social distancing norms,” the notification specified.

The pristine beauty of Mawsmai, Sohra are beckoning the visitors, even as the state health and tourism departments have issued strict guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the restart of tourism in the state.

The Mawsmai-Nongthymmai Elaka on October 14 announced its decision to allow local tourists to visit the various tourist spots in the area from October 16.

Mawsmai is home to the world famous Nohsngithiang Water Fall also known as Seven Sisters Fall, the Mawsmai Cave system, Thangkharang Park, overlooking the plains of neighbouring Bangladesh, the Eco Park, Mot Palong viewpoint and the newly launched tourist spot at Khmat Kharai Fall known to many as ‘Double Drive’.

“The decision followed the notification issued by the state government for reopening of tourist spots from October 16 with strict adherence to the social distancing protocols,” said a local entrepreneur in the field of tourism.

The Mawsmai-Nongthymmai Elaka has also urged local visitors to maintain discipline and decorum while visiting these tourist spots. It also warned against littering and dumping of plastics and other kinds of waste.

Further, it was also announced that all hotels and guest houses in the area have been allowed to re-open to enable local visitors to stay.

On the other hand, popular tourist spots across the state, including in the capital city Shillong are being refurbished with special attention on entry and exit of visitors, which would be strictly monitored in keeping with all safety protocols, including checking of temperature, maintenance of hand hygiene and physical distancing, as specified by the government.

Three tourist spots in and around the state capital Shillong, including Ward’s Lake, Elephant Falls and Nehru Park, Umiam or Barapani were allowed to re-open for local tourists from last month, with many visitors welcoming the move.

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Stories syndicated from news agency United News of India (UNI)