COVID-19: Gilgit-Baltistan reopens for tourism as Pakistan flattens curve

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Having flattened the coronavirus curve, Pakistan’s scenic Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is all set to welcome domestic and international tourists albeit with strict safety measures in place from tomorrow.
Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Pakistan’s scenic Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is all set to welcome domestic and international tourists with strict safety measures in place after Pakistan successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve.

The tourist areas in GB will open from August 8 under a “No mask, no tourism” policy and tightly controlled conditions. Mir Afzal Khan, the caretaker Chief Minister of GB, has issued directions to open the tourism sector with the proper implementation of travel standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The GB government has planned an organized reopening of tourist areas after the evaluation of the health situation. The officials came up with guidelines for travel and the hotel industry as well as visitors for the safe revival of tourism after five months of closure. GB home secretary Mohammad Ali Randhawa shared the mandatory guidelines for both visitors and tour operators.

Mandatory travel guidelines

1. Before travel, the visitors must submit the following documents at the tourism office at GB house in Islamabad:

– Proof of a negative coronavirus test result

– COVID test to be taken within 7 days of arrival

– Details of travel areas

2. The GB government would issue a visit permit after assessing the details of the tourists

3. Only those with the permit would be allowed to enter the region

4. Screening and registration to be ensured at all entry points

5. Tour operators and hotel owners will ensure details of hotel booking prior to the visit

6. Suspected coronavirus patients to be immediately quarantined and sent back

Besides the essential rules, hotels and restaurants have been advised to display safety instructions for employees and customers and ensure temperature checks at the entrance. Visitors as well as those associated with the travel industry must wear masks while restaurants have been urged to maintain social distancing.

90 per cent coronavirus patients recovered

The number of coronavirus cases and fatalities continues to decline in Pakistan as the country reported 17 new deaths in the last 24 hours. Nearly 782 confirmed COVID-19 cases were diagnosed during the last day, according to the latest data by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC). The active coronavirus cases in the country stand at 18,494.

With the new virus cases reported during the last day, Pakistan’s overall count surged past 282,600 on Friday, the Health Ministry said. With 258,000 recoveries, Pakistan’s recovery rate is now over 91 per cent.

Normal flight operations resume

Normal domestic flight operations have also resumed at nearly all airports in Pakistan from August 6 midnight except Turbat, Pangjur, Dalbadin, Zhob, Pasni, Moenjodaro, Nawabshah and Bahawalpur airport.

All operators would be required to implement the established guidelines and seek prior schedule approval from the authority. Pakistan decided to shut all its land borders and decided to close domestic and international flights in March.

All sectors open except schools and wedding halls

With the infection rate down nearly 80 per cent, Pakistan announced to open all sector next week, other than schools and marriage halls. Planning Minister Asad Umar announced a day earlier that tourist destinations would open from August 8, restaurants, theaters, gyms and beauty salons from August 10 and schools and marriage halls from September 15. Shops and businesses would go back to pre-COVID timings from August 10.

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