As the COVID-19 restrictions eased in the country, people started making their travel plans. And for mountain buffs, northeast India is a highly adored stretch, thanks to its lofty peaks, scenic roads, gorgeous waterfalls, caves, forests and more. While Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura are known as the seven sisters of the northeast, Sikkim also got included in the list later. As the virus cases are rising again in the country, many of these states have issued new guidelines. If you are planning to visit the northeast anytime soon, here are the new COVID rules you must consider.
In Sikkim, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and pubs will be closed after 10 PM. The state is not allowing the movement of vehicles from 10:30 PM to 6:00 AM except for emergency purposes. However, the pubs and nightclubs will be open to the in-house guests staying at the hotel. RT-PCR negative test reports are now mandatory to get entry to hotels and resorts. The test should be conducted 72 hours prior to arrival. Tourists who test positive will have to quarantine themselves at paid quarantine locations identified by District Collectors.
According to orders dated April 3, 2021, by the Government of Assam, all passengers arriving in trains originating from or transiting through Maharashtra and/or Karnataka will have to undergo screening for symptoms on arrival at the railway stations. Symptomatic passengers will have to undergo a COVID-19 test. If the report comes as virus-positive, the person will be sent to home isolation or hospital, as per treatment protocol. All passengers arriving from Mumbai or Bangalore via flights will have to carry RT-PCR negative reports, conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. Airlines will allow boarding of only those passengers who have negative reports. If the report is not satisfactory, the person will have to undergo a paid COVID test at the airport on arrival and wait inside airport premises till the result arrives.
As per an order dated April 2, 2021, it is mandatory for people entering Meghalaya from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh and Gujarat to carry negative RT-PCR test reports. RAT negative reports won’t be valid for travellers arriving from these states. The test must be done 72 hours prior to arrival at the entry point. Passengers without the certificates will have to undergo a paid RT-PCR test at the entry point and will have to remain in quarantine at home or any other place of stay until the result arrives. The state has also extended the night curfew in the East Khasi Hills till April 11. The night curfew will remain in force till 5 AM.
Manipur authorities have suggested home quarantine for travellers from highly affected places and for people who have come in contact with other patients. Other measures like washing hands frequently, discarding tissues in the dustbin after use, covering the mouth while coughing or sneezing, using of surgical masks, have also been advised.
Amid the surging cases, Mizoram Health minister Dr Lalthangliana has urged churches, NGOs and local volunteers to revive efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. According to the health minister, Mizoram has witnessed a spike in virus cases since late March after the relaxation of COVID protocols. He has urged leaders to take preventive measures so that the situation does not go from bad to worst. The meeting addressed the necessity to review night curfew, church service, sports activities, etc. Also, the government announced on the issuance of new SOPs amid the rising cases.
People arriving at Tripura’s Agartala airport from highly affected states and abroad will have to undergo COVID-19 testing. Also, recently, members the Technical Advisory Committee of doctors on Covid-19 advised not to travel outside the state except for an emergency. According to a Northeast Now report dated March 28, 2021, Tapan Majumder, a member of the advisory committee has said, “Almost every person arriving in Tripura from Uttar Pradesh have found to be infected by the novel coronavirus.” The state has also issued restrictions in government offices after Tripura Biplab Kumar Deb tested positive for coronavirus. The CM tested positive on April 7. The CM tweeted, “I have been tested positive for Covid-19. I have isolated myself at home as per the advice of doctors. I request everyone to please follow all the covid appropriate behaviour and stay safe.”
Domestic tourists must obtain the Inner Line Permit ( ILP) for entering Nagaland. Every tourist entering the state need to have a COVID test done not older than three days prior to arrival. Tourists have to register to NTA ( Nagaland Tourism App) for Google Play or Apple Store. Also, the Nagaland Tourism website has revealed detailed SOPs for tour operators, hospitality sector and restaurants.
8. Arunachal Pradesh
According to a Business Standard Report dated April 4, Health and Family Welfare Minister Alo Libang said, “This landlocked hilly state is a protected area where Inner Line Permit (ILP) is in force. Any Indian citizen intending to visit Arunachal Pradesh has to obtain ILP, which to a great extent is helping in controlling the spread of the virus due to the restricted movement of people from outside the state”. Arunachal Pradesh has handled COVID-19 quite effectively. So far, the state has reported only 56 fatalities. Also, the recovery rate has been quite high.