Corona effect on travellers and trekkers in India:
Update on 24th March: India under “complete locked down” for 21 days starting from 12 am midnight of 25th March. Don’t plan any trek till April end. We hope that from May onward situation will be favourable to plan anything in future.
By mid of March entire world is moving towards a partial lock down, if not fully, almost like one of those science fictions! Countries shutting down their borders due to new virus SARS-CoV-2 and its disease COVID-19 is a reality now.
To fight against this new coronavirus, deciding against any travel is the best prevention we can think of right now. Governments and local administrations have already taken actions restricting public movements and social gatherings. Like many other countries things have changed very fast in India since a week or so. Containment is the key to combat the spread, unless we have a “solution” for this. Self travel impose and isolation along with social distancing look plausible interim actions for a while. Although we don’t know how long!
Quite naturally economy has taken a back seat, we being Tour Operators in the front line. However Public health and interest are our first priority and we have decided that:
All our treks in the Himalayas will remain closed from 17th March 2020 to 14th April 2020. We will review the conditions in mid April and update accordingly.
However our back office staff are working from home and available for any queries and future trek planning as usual during office hours. Mon to Sat: 10 am to 8 pm, available over phone, email and chat.
How travel restrictions are implemented starting from March 2020:
Various Indian states adopted different techniques as precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the new virus. However the measures are mostly by preventing travel and entry for the tourists. Either being a foreigner or an Indian you can’t enter as a tourist in many states as of now.
5th March: Issuing of Inner Line Permit to foreigners in Sikkim got a stop. This doesn’t specify any end date. Check the order issued by Home Department, Govt. Of Sikkim.
11th March: All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure. Keep updates from Bureau of Immigration, Govt. Of India or the current restrictions. As a result all of the non Indian trekkers have to postpone your travel and revisit as the time progresses.
16th March: In Sikkim, entry of domestic tourists shall be stopped w.e.f from 17th March 15th April 2020, or till further orders. Here is the press release from Information & Public Relations Department, Govt. Of Sikkim. This along with the earlier notice concludes that all tourist including domestic and foreigners will not get any entry permit to Sikkim up to 15th April or till further orders. We recommend you to wait until mid April for trekking in Sikkim.
17th March: Entry to all forest and national park inside Darjeeling district including Singalila National Park will be closed to tourists from 17th March until further notice. Check the order issued by the DFO, Darjeeling Wildlife Division. We recommend you to wait until end of March and decide your your next plan of Sandakphu or Phalut trek.
Other Himalayan states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh has also declared the epidemic in the state and restricting travel and social gatherings. Schools, colleges, cinema halls are already closed. However we didn’t get any order from these states yet. We strongly advice you to revisit your travel plans by the end of this month for all Uttarakhand treks or Himachal Pradesh treks that you have booked and avoid any nonessential travel.
18th March: Local administrations inside Uttarakhand started issuing order of closing forest and national park regions for trekking. One such order inside Uttarkashi Forest Division is stored here which says that the treks will remain suspend till 31st March 2020.
18th March: The government has announced that no commercial international flights will be allowed to land in India from Sunday, March 22 for a week as cases of Coronavirus continue to rise in the country.
What to do apart from waiting in this uncertain times?
- Simply follow as govt and experts tell to do or suggest. Avoid non essential travel or don’t travel if there is a workaround. DON’T go out if you are sick.
- Probably next two weeks will be crucial for India as from the virus containment perspective. We must not facilitate and prevent any community transmission of the virus and do our part.
- Remember hand and general hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water and practice for not touching your face with hands. Break the possible chain of any infection.
- Stay updated for Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public by WHO.
- Keep yourself updated with NOVEL CORONA VIRUS status by Department of Health and Family welfare, Govt. Of India. Additionally check your state and local health department advisories, do’s and don’ts.
- Verify any information which you may have received via unknown sources before passing to others.
If you have already booked your tour starting between 17th March and 15th April, then we recommend you to not plan anything but wait until mid of April. We will review and reassess the situation. Your deposited money remains as is with us. You can use it in any trek with HT in future. We will keep you posted here.
As we care for people around us so lets not go outside unless absolutely essential. Let us also encourage all around us to do so. This is the best that we can do our part as a common man. Stay healthy and keep people healthy around you.
We will be back with the update by mid of April.
All the best,
Important Note: Our back office staff are working from home and available for any queries and future trek planning as usual during office hours. We are available over email, phone and WhatsApp.
Mon to Sat: 10 am to 8 pm