The Domestic Travel standstill is real. The anxiety and hopelessness we all are going through is definitely real. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought uncertainty to how we perceive things around us, and travel has been the worst hit. All these months of lockdown, and no travel is something our modern generation has not experienced before, making it something to tell our future generations about.
It’s in human nature to travel, explore, wander, experience new things, behold new sights, and these months in lockdown have just fueled our desire to do that. But the persistent question remains…Can we?
According to news and other media outlets, many countries are allowing travel post-COVID 19 and tourism in the coming months of June and July. The aim is to jumpstart tourism and travel albeit with some precautions. Countries like Italy, Greece, Iceland, Belgium plan to open travel in the coming weeks of June, with June 15th said to be their preferred date of commencement. India too began its domestic air operations from 25th May, so what does it mean for tourism in India?
ATOAI (Adventure Tour Operators of India)
has laid out some guidelines on how to conduct travel post-COVID 19 for tour agencies and operators throughout India in its recent press release.
The rules apply to individuals traveling, tour operators, drivers, and other entities that are involved in the process of tourism. Some of the common guidelines are:
- Guests and Tour Operators have to wear masks.
- They have to put social distancing into effect throughout the trip. A family can be seated together in a vehicle.
- The luggage and all the common points of vehicles and the building/properties in use should be sanitized.
- Temperature checks should be done before the start of the trip and at regular intervals.
- There shouldn’t be any sharing of common items like water bottles, newspapers and towels amongst guests and they should be encouraged to bring their own water bottles.
- Air conditioning in the vehicle should be avoided or kept at a minimum.
- Usage of pools, gyms and spas should be avoided.
- Guests should take shower after returning from the day’s travel.
ATOAI also suggests that outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, cycling, nature walks and wildlife safaris should be encouraged because they promote social distancing because of their nature of execution.
Small groups should be taken to such activities and apt social distancing should be practiced as to ensure smooth operations for both guests and operators.
At Justwravel, we care for our fellow wravelers and we are taking safety precautions and planning in advance what all measures can be taken to prioritize safe and smooth operations of treks, road trips, and weekend getaways. The above-mentioned pointers are a go-ahead for travel post-COVID 19.
We have a close working relationship with our partners at hotels and all other properties. Even before this pandemic, our utmost priority was to give our wravelers a comfortable and hygienic environment for a rich and comfortable experience throughout the trip.
We have ramped up our safety protocols and ensure that all the common areas are sanitized and kept clean. We’ll also ensure that the food prepared and served is of hygienic quality and the servers and the cooks are taking necessary precautions during the preparation of meals and procurement of the raw materials required to make the meals.
This is the area we’ll be focusing mainly on. We’ll be ensuring all the common touch areas and seats are sanitized well enough before the trip and also throughout the trip. There’ll also be vacant seats so as to ensure social distancing.
The driver of the vehicle would be equipped with a mask and sanitizer, and would be required to keep conversations to a minimum. Air conditioning would be turned off or kept to a minimum usage and windows would be opened up for ventilation in the vehicle.
Trekking is a physical and outdoor sport which is fun when it is carried out in a group. At JustWravel we’ll be ensuring that the fun and adventurous part still remains during the treks, albeit with precautions and safety measures carried throughout the entirety of the trek.
The trek leader will be briefing about the trek and all the safety measures and guidelines before the start of the trek.
We’ll be encouraging the trek participants to bring all the required trekking gear and items before the trek starts as to minimise risks of the virus through sharing and gear rentals. The basic equipment that we’ll be giving out on treks to the participants will be sanitized.
Meals prepared would be hygienic and the cutleries handed out would be sanitized as well. On some of the treks we might ask you to bring your tiff in boxes so that better hygiene can be guaranteed.
All the customers would be required to undergo a temperature check before the start of the trip and will be practicing social distancing. They are advised to bring their own personal masks, sanitizers and gloves. If anyone feels uncomfortable/sick during the trip, they won’t be allowed to continue on the trip/trek. If the oxygen level of a trekker is below the normal level at the base camp, they won’t be allowed to go for the rest of the trek/summit.
As we are a community, we run a lot of fixed departure road trips, weekend getaways and treks wherein social distancing, or keeping vacant seats and briefing all precautionary measures will be there, but there are a lot of touch points and getting covid tests done for all the travelers is not possible and feasible.
It now becomes an individual’s responsibility to look out for his/her own personal safety and hygiene and in turn, it would lead to the betterment of everyone around them.
Additionally, Indian states have also laid down some guidelines for intra-state travel post-COVID 19. Some of these states are:
The Liaison Officer and Nodal Officer of the Airport Authority will work to coordinate the movement of inbound and outbound passengers.
All passengers would be needed to register at https://dsclservices.in/uttarakhand-migrant-registration.php. Institutional Quarantine is obligatory for a time period as mentioned by health authorities. The inbound passengers will have the option of choosing a quarantine center on a payment basis.
Under the responsibility of the Liaison Officer, only earmarked vehicles are allowed to operate as transportation services. There is a special vehicle service arranged for symptomatic passengers. The drivers should strictly stick to the social distancing norm.
Passengers will get their travel permission only after the submission of proper medical documents to the District Nodal Officers. The state has completely seized the movement to and from containment zones. The outbound passengers are asked to strictly adhere to guidelines of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and travel by authorized taxis or personal cars.
Andaman and Nicobar
The state has developed protocols based on the announcement of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. On arrival at the airport, the passengers will go through thermal screening, and the passengers will need to share their contact details and residential address. The asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to continue their travel towards their home or next destination whereas the symptomatic passengers will be sent to COVID Care Center for isolation.
The state has asked all its passengers and returnees to download “Arogya Setu App”, maintain strict social distancing, and to cooperate with the thermal screening process conducted during arrival by state authorities.
The entry and exit from the state borders could only be done between 7 am to 7 pm. Valid tickets and boarding passes will be sufficient to travel beyond the airport and station.
All the passengers traveling to Himachal Pradesh from Red Zones are obligated to go through institutional quarantine. Meanwhile, the ones traveling from Orange and Green Zones will be sent to quarantine at home after proper screening.
The people kept under institutional quarantine are mandated to go through COVID tests on the 6th to 10th day of the quarantine period. If the results are negative, they will be released for home quarantine. Individuals are free to choose a better quarantine facility on a payment basis.
Jammu and Kashmir
All the passengers traveling to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, either by road, rail, or air need to go through thorough checking and other health protocols.
The passengers or returnees will be sent to the Administrative Institutional Quarantine after the test for 14 days. The ones with the negative test results will be sent home for home quarantine, while the one with positive test results will be sent to COVID-19 dedicated hospital for treatment.
This whole process could also take less than 14 days. Passengers are allowed to choose paid Institutional Quarantine facilities.
The passengers will have to register at Covid19 Jagratha after securing their flight tickets, the details of the registration have to be shown in the registration desk.
The travel permit will be sent to the registered mobile number with a QR code. After the screening process, all the asymptomatic passengers will go through mandatory home quarantine for 14 days and the symptomatic ones will be shifted to COVID Care Center.
The state has taken several measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. In the latest development, the lockdown in the state has been extended till 30th June by the West Bengal state authorities.
As per 8th June the Mizoram government the quarantine period in the state has been increased from 14 days to 21 Days.
These are some of the steps that are being taken by the state governments of India to tackle the problem posed by COVID-19. As India has ramped up it’s testing, the number of cases is rising by the day, but soon that won’t be the case. We can expect travel to return sooner rather than later, and all these months sacrificed, won’t seem like a big thing anymore.
Better things are just round the corner, and all the patience will surely pay off.
Travel and tourism will change, and would be different from what we all knew before, but it will not be stopping.
Until then, keep dreaming and believing. We will keep updating this post domestic travel post-COVID 19 from time to time when guidelines have changed from states.