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Meghalaya: SOPs issued for tourist destinations for local tourists

The tourism division of Meghalaya has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) guidelines for a phase-wise re-opening of vacationer locations inside the state that reassures all stakeholders concerned.

 The SOPs for tourist destinations for entry of local tourists:

Preparing the Tourist Destinations-

* The management of the ticketed tourist destination shall be responsible for the general preparedness of the destination, with an aim to prevent cases, effectively manage cases, and mitigate impact among the tourists visiting the destination.

* The management of the tourist destination shall constitute a COVID-19 Management Team that shall be responsible for various activities like implementation of crowd management including social distancing, screening of tourists, hygiene and sanitation, awareness, and training of staff and visitors as per these guidelines. Each team should appoint a Coordinator who will be responsible for coordinating with the State Government.

Capacity of the Tourist Destination-

Each Tourist Destination shall notify its “Carrying Capacity” which shall be defined as the maximum number of visitors that a destination can accommodate and still achieve the measures of social distancing. The tourist destination carrying capacity at any point in time shall be calculated based on social distancing norms.

 Online Ticketing and pre-booking of entry tickets is encouraged to avoid crowding at ticket counters. While in the initial phase manual tickets can be issued to strictly enforce social distancing and to not exceed the carrying capacity as defined for each tourist destination, the Tourism Department through the Check into Nature App will be coming out with online booking and contactless entry.

Also Read: Meghalaya government closes all its entry and exit points

General guidelines for safety and hygiene:

* All tourist destination staff must wear face masks and single-use gloves mandatorily while performing their duties at the property.

* A safe physical distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) should always be mandatorily maintained by all while at the premises of the destination.

* 2 meters (6 feet) physical distance markings at all waiting areas like entrance, ticketing should be done for tourists to stand during the queue.

* Hand sanitizer is to be made available at all tourist destination entry points and ticketing counters for the drivers and tourists entering the destination.

* All staff/tourists shall be strictly screened using a thermal gun/scanner by a designated trained person at entry by holding the scanner 3 to 15 cm away from the person’s forehead and anybody having a fever (equal to or more than 37.50C/99.50F), cold, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing shall not be allowed entry and should be immediately reported to the concerned authorities.

* Spitting is to be strictly prohibited and fine is to be imposed on all offenders as per relevant sections of the law.

* Gaming Arcades/Children play areas (wherever applicable) shall remain closed.

* Disposal of waste by the tourists will not be allowed at the tourist spots. Tourists are to compulsorily dispose of the waste generated by them at the designated areas or carry back the waste to be disposed of later in a proper area.

* Garbage/waste bags are to be made readily available on payment at the tourist spots.

* Facility for handwashing to be made available at designated places.

* Drinking water stations to be made available at designated places wherever possible.

Protocol for entry into tourist destinations:

* All tourists are to compulsorily always wear facemasks during entry and during their visit to the tourist destination. Those not wearing facemasks shall not be allowed to enter.

* All tourists including drivers shall be strictly screened using a thermal gun/scanner by a designated trained person at entry by holding the scanner 3 to 15 cm away from the person’s forehead and anybody having a fever (equal to or more than 37.50C/99.50F), cold, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing shall not be allowed entry and should be immediately reported to the concerned authorities. They should be politey asked to return.

* The staff performing screening should be trained in the screening procedure. They should wear the appropriate protective gear as per the guidelines

* All visitors to provide basic personal information when visiting the destination, including name, phone number, address. This record to be properly maintained by the management of the tourist destination. This is done to ensure contact tracing related activity if required.

* The Management of the tourist destination to designate a containment room or an isolation area for tourists or staff with potential COVID-19 symptoms. The visitor with the symptom and people accompanying him/her should all be moved to the containment area, and the concerned district administration should be notified by the COVID Coordinator at the earliest.

* Persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home. Management of the tourist destination to advise accordingly.

Cleaning of Common Areas:

* All common areas are to be cleaned daily.

* Seating/lounging areas to be readjusted to accommodate physical distancing guidelines to allow 2 meters (6 feet) of space between individuals or family units.

* In case of deep or normal cleaning, staff must wear face masks and gloves during the cleaning process.

* Staff must sanitize their hands or wash their hands with soap before and after the cleaning process.

* Use of toilets should be avoided at Tourist Destinations. However, toilets should be cleaned as frequently as possible using sodium hypochlorite and staff should have designated toilets separate from the ones used for the tourists.

Food Shops and Other Shops inside the Tourist Destination:

* Shops selling snacks, cafeteria, souvenir shops inside the tourist destination should follow all the health and hygiene protocols including the wearing of masks, handwashing, social distancing, and all protocols laid down in these guidelines. All staff f such shops will also be screened on entry to the tourist destination.

* Entry of tourists to the souvenir shops/ restaurants at the tourist spots is to be properly regulated by the management with menu boards and price lists clearly displayed.

* Seating arrangements inside any restaurant inside the Tourist Destination to be re-arranged keeping in mind social distancing norms.

* Those tourist destinations having restaurants should follow the SOP for restaurants.

* To prevent over-crowding in the vicinity of the tourist spots, no new stalls should be allowed, except with the express permission of the competent authority.

Boating Facilities:

* All boat ramp or launch deck shall practice social distancing. Staff and visitors should allow appropriate space on the boat ramp or launch deck and clear the ramp immediately when the launch is complete.

* On return to the ramp or launch deck after boating, users should disembark quickly and as safely as possible and clear the launch area.

* Masks and face coverings should always be worn in public and proper social distancing is to be maintained while boating.

* Wherever possible only persons from the same household/family if traveling together should be on a boat at one time. No gatherings or groups of persons from multiple households are to be permitted on the boat ramps or launch deck.

Recently Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that the Meghalaya government has decided to re-open Ward’s Lake, Lum Nehru Park & Elephant Falls from 1st September, 2020 for local tourism in accordance with health protocols and SOPs laid down by the Govt.

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