Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Government issues guidelines for mountaineering and trekking activities

 The government has asked the foreigner to carry with themselves a PCR test report conducted not more than 72 hours ago – for trekking and mountaineering purpose – apart from seven-day mandatory hotel quarantine before they will be allowed to hit the trail. The travelers need to get tested for Covid-19 at the beginning and end of the isolation period, according to the government guideline issued today.

Issuing health protocol today for foreign tourists to follow in order to minimise the possible spread of coronavirus infection while conducting trekking and mountaineering activities, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation also asked the tourists to secure an entry-visa, or an entry-permit in absence of visa-provision in their countries in co-ordination with respective agencies. “Travellers have to secure visas before they arrive in Nepal,” the ministry said, adding that the government will not issue on-arrival visas at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) like before.

If the visitors are unable to secure visas through the Nepal embassies and diplomatic mission abroad, they should make a prior request through their trekking or travel agencies in Nepal. The Department of Tourism that issues mountaineering permits, and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) that issues trekking permits, will recommend to the Department of Immigration to issue visas to the applicants.

The government is allowing the foreign trekkers and mountaineers to visit Nepal from October 17.

The tourists must carry with themselves a PCR test report conducted not more that 72 hours ago, attesting that the person has tested negative for Covid-19. “Along with the report, the traveler must have booking-documents for the hotel wherein they will stay for at least seven days in quarantine.”

They must also undergo a PCR test at their own expense on the fifth day of being quarantined. They may proceed for the purported activity at the end of quarantine period only on testing negative for the disease. “If the test results in a positive, the person must stay in quarantine for as long as they do not test negative,” the guidelines read.

The travelers must provide papers proving they have an insurance of $5,000, it reads. “The ministry has also asked the trekking or mountaineering agency to insure travelers from Nepal against coronavirus for a sum of Rs 100,000 prior to applying for permit.”

Apart from the guidelines, the travelers must also abide by all the protocols laid out by the Health Ministry.

However, the travel experts criticised the government guidelines saying that the travelers will not come to Nepal to stay in the hotel for a week. They also requested the government to withdraw the decision.

The government – on March 12, a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic and urged countries to take precautionary measures – had decided to temporarily stop issuing on-arrival tourist visas to nationals of all countries, and cancel spring mountaineering expeditions including Mt Everest missions.

The government also stopped international flights from March 20 and imposed lockdown from March 24. Though, the lockdown was lifted after 120 days, on July 21, the government continued with the restrictive order with restrictions on movement.

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