Tourist spots now open on weekends

As covid-19 TPR eases, now it’s time to take that long and winding road

With covid-19 cases seemingly under control, many tourist places are now being thrown open to the public.

Due to the weekend lockdown, earlier, the public were barred from entering tourist spots. This was a great inconvenience for Bengalureans as many preferred to head out of the city on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Ramanagara district administration has waived off all weekend restrictions at Ramadevara BettaRevana Siddeshwara Betta, Kanva reservoir, Manchanabele, Savandurga, sangamaMekedatu and Chunchi falls. Similarly, Hampi has been open to travelers during weekends for the last few weeks after a temporary ban.

Famous pilgrim spots like dharmathala and Kukke will now allow devotees to have a darshan on weekends. However, the district administration has asked the staff and priests to undergo RT-PCR tests once in a fortnight. Those who are taking part in special poojas have been asked to produce negative RT-PCR test reports (not less than 72 hours old). Fully vaccinated tourists are encouraged. The temple administration has been told to open special vaccination drives within the temple premises for those who are yet to get jabbed.

The restrictions at Jog falls have been eased further. Earlier, travelers had to mandatory carry covid-negative certificates to visit the famed waterfalls. Now, under mounting public pressure, the Shivamogga district administration modified the norms stating RT-PCR negative certificate is not essential. However, travelers need to show proof of at least one dose of the vaccine. One of the main reasons for the opening up of tourist spots is the decrease in total positivity rate. The state’s positivity rate has been 0.65 per cent in the last seven days. No district has a TPR above 2 per cent. Chikkamagaluru’s TPR is 1.9 per cent and Kodagu is at 1.8 per cent. Dakshina Kannada’s TPR has failed to 1.09 per cent. The lowest TPRs are of Bagalkot and Haveri at 0.2 per cent.

“This is a great move as people should be allowed to travel. We had several restrictions during the lockdown when most of us were restricted to houses or localities. Even though the lockdown was relaxed, the restrictions at tourist places on weekends were creating hurdles for travellers,” Arati Kashyap, a college student said.

It is not just travelers but those who are associated with travel business are also welcoming the move. “For many months, we didn’t have a single occupancy in our hotel. We had to pay salaries and invest heavily in maintenance without any revenue. Most of our business happens on weekends when travelers from Bengaluru arrive.

However, with the weekend shutdown, it was dull. Now we are seeing the occupancy going up,” said Ramappa S, who runs a hotel in Hospet.

However, health experts are advising caution against crowding in places. “Though the travel restrictions are eased, we should not forget covid-19. The virus is still here and there are predictions about the next wave. So, my advice is to avoid crowded places and even if someone needs to travel, a mask is a must and there is no easing of covid appropriate behaviour,”said a health expert. Experts also suggested travelers take safety precautions as two people died after drowning at Ganalu falls on Sunday.