File photo of MG Road in Gangtok

Sikkim government has decided to allow inter-state movement from October 1, after closing the boundaries for almost six months to contain the spread of Novel Coronavirus in the hill state.

Foreigners will be allowed to visit the state from October 10 with Inner Line Permits, issued against their visas.

The decision to reopen the state has been taken “keeping in view the welfare of the people” and a policy has been adopted accordingly, according to chief minister P S Tamang, who is also the chairman of the state task force that oversees the COVID-19 related issues.

With extremely pleasant weather and the mighty Mount Khangchendzonga showing up on sunny mornings, the current period also happens to be the tourist season for Sikkim.

Tourism being the backbone of the state, the Health and Tourism departments are expected to release fresh COVID-19 protocol for inter-state movement from October 1, in a bid to help the tourism industry recover their losses.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for restaurants, hotels and home stays expected to be given out soon.

Accordingly, as soon as the lockdown from September 21-27 is lifted, the bookings for hotels and home stays will be started, and the hotel owners will have to get all their employees back to work.

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Sikkim’s tourism industry has been suffering since March 22 till date due to COVID-19 triggered lockdown.

Chairman of Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation Lukendra Rasaily has said: “The borders have to be reopened with stringent measures in place. Unemployment has increased, resulting in mental sickness, anxiety and distress among some, while incidences of domestic violence have increased amid the pandemic. More than 2.5 lakh people depending on tourism in Sikkim have suffered irreparable losses.”

“…and, for restoring their economic condition the show has to kick start! The stakeholders have been looking forward to resurgence of Tourism Industry,” he added.

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