After almost 8 months, Sikkim has finally reopened its door for domestic tourists, the Sikkim government has allowed hotels, homestays and other tourism-related activities has restart operations from 10th October 2020.
Bookings for hotels and homestays had already started from September 27.
However, few key destinations including Nathu La, Lachung in North Sikkim, and Yaksom in West Sikkim to remain shut for tourists.
The Prem Singh Tamang government has taken this decision after consultation with local authorities and communities.
A 23-page Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Himalayan state should be put in place by hotels and all tourism-related activities.
As per the new travel guidelines/SOPs, only domestic tourists and foreigners residing in India can travel to the Sikkim for now. All tourists must compulsorily register on the Sikkim Tourism web portal and carry a copy of the "travel card", issued on the basis of tourist registration, at all times. Also, As per the new rules tourists must also pre-book their accommodation.
Here are the few guidelines mentioned in the SOPs issued by the Himalayan state;
- Only domestic tourists and foreign nationals residing in India would be allowed into the state in the first phase.
- Tourists have been 'advised' to carry with them a certificate of COVID-negative test. The test should either be RT-PCR or Truenat test. The certificate must be obtained within 72 hours prior to the arrival in the state.
- The state has made it compulsory for tourists to obtain a "Travel Card" by registering on the Sikkim Tourism Web Portal before traveling. This card must be on the tourists' person at all times during their travel in Sikkim.
- Tourists would have to ensure that their travel in Sikkim is pre-booked with the accommodations complying with health and safety guidelines, as well as travel agents or tour operators.
- The SOP has advised people over 65 years of age, under 10 years of age, and those suffering from comorbidities to avoid travel. If they have to travel, they should limit their movement, the SOPs state.
- All tourists would be required to carry protective gear, including face masks, shields, gloves, thermometers, and sanitizers at their own end. Tourists must also refrain from going into containment zones while traveling.
- The SOPs have further encouraged tourists to undertake digital transactions and limit the use of cash as far as possible. Meanwhile, hotels and accommodation units have been directed to not reserve rooms for tourists not registered on the government web portal.
- Hotels located in containment zones would not be allowed to operate.
- Accommodation units permitted to operate would have to prepare at least one room for emergency isolation purposes, in case of any suspected cases, The new SOPs have clearly stated that any tourist suspected to have COVID-19 symptoms would be shifted to an isolation room along with the people travelling with him.
Here is the detailed SOPs/Guidelines Issued by Sikkim