It is good that the Uttarakhand Government is not being stampeded into entirely relaxing the Covid restrictions in the state. It is much better to be conservative in this regard as, thus far, it has only been lockdowns that have contained the pandemic. It remains to be seen whether vaccinations have played a role in the present downturn in Covid figures, but it could be a possibility. Like in most parts of India, the vulnerable and exposed sections of society have been largely vaccinated and are probably acting as a shield in critical areas of the anti-Covid battle. Goa’s decision to allow in vaccinated tourists without negative test reports, for instance, is an acknowledgement of this reality. It should be emulated by Uttarakhand.
Even with the ongoing restrictions, Uttarakhand’s hill stations are already flooded with tourists. Considering the demand and actual capacity, it doesn’t take too many to do so. The plan by the UTDB to establish and promote ‘workcations’ in remote parts of the hills is a good one, as it would take the pressure off the few well known destinations. And, yet, ensuring Covid precautions remains a challenge, which is why slow opening up is a necessity. The final test will come, of course, when it is thought safe to open up the restaurants, malls, multiplexes and cinema halls, as well as schools and colleges. Those in the tourism and entertainment business should try and speed up vaccination of their employees to provide greater safety to visitors. Also, entry could, for the time being, be allowed only to the vaccinated.
A close eye needs to be kept on the daily figures regarding infections and fatalities. Occasional tightening up should take place if there is a rise, to remind people of their duty to maintain precautions. There are still too many that remain uncaring and negligent on this score. There is also, possibly, a seasonal aspect to the Covid surges. It is being estimated that the ‘third wave’ will hit three or four months down the line, so all necessary steps should be taken to avert it. The demands of the business folk are being gradually conceded, which should help boost their morale. It is clear that neither the state nor the nation can afford anything like the second wave that has proved so catastrophic for everybody in some way or another.