In the month of March, The Himalayan kingdom declared a total and complete lockdown in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The lockdown led to many negative effects. Over 350,000 people were rendered jobless as many businesses and companies shut down.
Each and every sector of the economy was affected. From the Education sector to the health sector and even the tourism sector.
According to The Himalayan Times, the tourism sector has lost over ͏$332 million in tourism revenue due to Coronavirus disease. During the high peak season, which are the months of April to August, Nepal usually has close to 400,000 tourists visit. That was not the case this year, hence the loss.
On Tuesday 21st July 2020, the Government of Nepal, after an agreement during a cabinet meeting and many negotiations from stakeholders, announced the end of the four months long lockdown.
Furthermore, the Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Mr. Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, announced the reopening of the country’s borders for both domestic and international flights.
The reopening is to take place from August 17th.
State Of Corona Virus In Nepal
As of 27th July 2020, Nepal has confirmed 18,752 cases. Out of the confirmed cases, 13754 have recovered.
The country has recorded 48 deaths only. The reduced number of confirmed positive Coronavirus cases per day in the country has led to the decision of reopening of the country’s borders.
The country aims at bringing the number of cases down to nearly zero. Nepal hopes to regain a part of its economy through tourism as it reopens.
Traveling to Nepal
Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil aviation is working towards ensuring that all safety protocols are adhered to in all airports at entry points and even on board.
Hotels and tourist attraction sites like parks are also urged to ensure that they have followed all safety guidelines at entry points and inside the sites, in preparation for foreigners when the country is reopened.
Any airport, hotel, or tourist attraction site that does not have the safety measures set by August 17th will not be allowed to operate until they have fully complied with the measures.
Who is allowed to travel to Nepal?
As flights resume, only those who are from countries least affected by Covid-19 at that time will be allowed to enter into Nepal. All countries will gradually be allowed into the country with time.
A list showing countries whose members are allowed to fly into Nepal will be availed on or before August 17th.
Any person who will fly into Nepal from August 17th, will be expected to provide health certificates proving that he/she is Covid-19 free.
The ministry of health also announced that it may take PCR tests, which will detect the presence of antigens on one’s body, on arrival. However, this is yet to be confirmed before the reopening date.
Any person travelling into Nepal through the repatriation flights before August 17th will be isolated upon arrival and a Covid-19 test taken.
Activities set to resume in Nepal
Hotels and accommodation, tourism activities, and restaurants will resume operation on July 30th for local residents of Nepal. This is a relief for most of them as they have been experiencing major losses since the start of the pandemic. The reopening will give way for preparing and adjusting to receive foreigners.
Trekking and climbing in Nepal
Nepal is a hot spot for climbing and trekking mountains. Some of the most famous mountains in Nepal are Mt. Everest which borders Nepal and China, Mt. Manaslu and Mt. Ama Dablam. Mt. Everest is the highest mountain on earth.
As the autumn season nears, there have been many inquiries from mountaineers with regards to the reopening and whether climbing and trekking will be allowed as September- December is the best time for the activities to happen.
The vice president of the Expedition Operations Association of Nepal, Mr. Iswari Poudel, announced that the Department of Tourism is preparing guidelines for climbers and trekkers.
Only those individuals and agencies who meet the Standard operating procedures will be given climbing permits which will allow them to climb and trek.
Uncertainties with relation to the reopening of Nepal
▶ It is not a guarantee that the reopening will lead to regaining tourism revenue as the majority of the market are from countries that are still highly affected by Coronavirus like the USA, North America, Europe, and even most parts of Asia.
▶ Risks of a second wave of the pandemic.
Most countries like Spain that had resumed normalcy are now experiencing a second wave of the pandemic. Chances of a second wave of the pandemic if the reopening of the country is not well planned are high.
As Nepal prepares to reopen its country on August 17th, 2020, more updates will be given by its government. Updates on Coronavirus cases statistics in Nepal can be found at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/nepal/