COVID-19 has created a terrifying situation all over the world. Handshaking which is the most convenient way of commencing a friendly conversation became the most potent route of transmission of the novel coronavirus. This made all the countries to lockdown its territory starting from the house level to society to the community to nation-leading to entire world. The airways, land ways, seaways were completely shut down in order to prevent the entry of COVID-19.
The Nepalese government has announced the resumption of flights – domestic as well as international starting from 17th August after about four months suspension. Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe, the minister for law, justice, and parliamentary affairs announced the continuity of flights following all the special health and safety protocols. The number of COVID-19 cases has been gradually decreasing in the present context. Even though Nepal has just decided to resume the flights, some countries have already taken the initiative to lift the restrictions imposed for the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, joint-secretary at the Civil Aviation Ministry stated that they are ready enough to start domestic flights with all the necessary health and safety protocols. As well, they have been researching to develop a protocol to make sure the incoming flights are safe. World Health Organization has implemented the criteria to resume the flights which will be completely followed as stated by the Ministry of Tourism.
Are all international flights permitted to Nepal?
Both the nations have to fulfill the criteria then decide about the flights. It is impossible like earlier days let enter any nationality. It is not the sole decision of Nepal. It is a mutual decision to be taken by the respective country's immigration and airlines.
What about maintaining social distancing?
Social distancing is one of the major keys to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Keeping in mind, the airport authorities have decided to allow a maximum of 300 passengers every hour in order to maintain social distancing. There will be places marked in order to keep the distance. Sanitizers will be sprayed upon the arrival and departure of the passengers. The number of testing centers for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests should be increased and the testing times be reduced to few hours accepting new methods.
Many economists have shared their thoughts about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will take a few years to boom up the once-proud tourism sector of Nepal. The tourism board mentioned that they have to do extensive discussions and researches with the government, tour operators: in-bound and out-bound, tourists, and health professionals. All the necessary precautions and provisions should be taken in order to handle the inflow of the tourists. As a starter, the bookings for the autumn season have been started, no matter if any tourist comes or not.
Nepal announced the nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All the scheduled domestic, as well as international flights, were canceled which affected tourism as well as the economy of the country. Many Nepali migrant workers were stranded in different countries due to the inability to spend the hefty flight rates for chartering flights back to Nepal.
At present, the government is being pressurized to resume the regular services as many countries have reopened and announced the summer travel and tours to their tourist destinations. The tourism industry has requested to decrease the mandatory quarantine provisions for international tourists. A 14-days of quarantine will demoralize the tourists to visit Nepal. If the country is lucky to attract a minimum of 20 percent of previous year's tourists on this autumn, the tourism industry might hike back until upcoming spring. The tourism sector is extremely and worst affected taking the unknown longest time to revive. That is why the Tourism insiders are saying "Only if we initiate now, we survive and can move ahead for a resurgence."
Author: Step On Himalaya
Date: 21st July, 2020