Birbhum: Vaccine and test riders for tourists to check Covid spread
The Birbhum district administration has asked hotel and resort owners at Santiniketan and other tourism hubs to ensure proof of both doses of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative RT-PCR test report, not older than 72 hours from arrival, before allotting accommodation at their properties.
Birbhum district magistrate Bidhan Chandra Ray issued an order on Thursday evening and it was circulated to all tourist destinations, including Santiniketan, in a bid to curb the outbreak amid fears of a third wave.
“All hotels and resorts at all tourist spots of Birbhum, including Santiniketan, have to abide by the directive and have been asked to cooperate with the administration to get a grip on the infection,” said Ray.
Hoteliers have been asked to keep a copy of the proof of vaccination or the Covid-19 negative report before the tourists enter their properties.
Before Birbhum, the administration in two other famed tourism hubs in the state — Digha and Darjeeling — took similar measures. On Friday, the Bankura district administration also issued an identical directive to ensure such proof for anyone visiting hotels or resorts in the district.
Sources said the flow of tourists increased exponentially after several special trains started running from Calcutta and some of the strict restrictions that the state government had imposed during the peak of the second wave were relaxed.
The rural market of Sonajhuri, a top draw for tourists as a weekend destination for rural art and crafts, has also been reopened.
“It is true that the order is good for the safety of our areas. But the main problem is the long gap (of at least 84 days) between the two doses of Covishield and the dire crisis of vaccines for the 18-44 age bracket. We think these directions would lessen the flow of tourists,” said Prosenjit Chowdhury, secretary of the Bolpur-Santiniketan Hoteliers’ Association.
The restrictions have been imposed for the Tarapith Kali temple in Rampurhat as well. The temple attracts pilgrims from neighbouring Bihar and Jharkhand in large numbers, besides all over Bengal.
Hoteliers in Tarapith have pleaded with the district administration to ensure immediate testing of tourists who were vaccinated but forgot to carry the proof or to arrange for verification on the basis of their identity documentation.
“It is a good order to protect the district from the third wave. We would request authorities to allow the tourists for a test or a confirmation through the government portal, if someone forgets to carry the proof,” said Sunil Giri, president of the Tarapith Hoteliers’ Association.