If you are looking for a monsoon break, here's some good news.
After two months of travel restrictions and lockdown, the Maharashtra administration has decided to reopen tourist hotspots Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani from June 21. However, all the viewing points in both the places will remain closed for eight more days.
You can now visit the hill stations without needing to carry a negative COVID-19 report if you are only visiting for a day. But if you are planning a longer stay, it is mandatory to carry either a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or RT-PCR Test report. A negative report of either RT-PCR or rapid antigen test taken not more than 72 hours prior to the visit is mandatory for those looking to stay overnight.
&ldquoFor tourists who are coming for a one-day visit carrying a negative report is not a must, but if you are planning to stay at a hotel then a negative report is a must,&rdquo said sub-divisional officer, Sangita Chougle Rajapurkar in a statement. &ldquoThe market will be open from 8am to 4pm. Tourists can roam around the city, but they cannot visit the viewing points. The decision on opening these spots will be taken after eight days. Till now all the shops were closed and traders have welcomed the move to keep shops open till 4pm.&rdquo
The administration also passed a decree stating that RAT will be conducted for every visitor at the Dandeghar naka (octroi) check post.
On June 18, representatives of traders and hoteliers along with the administration decided to permit the entry of tourists into Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani in a meeting conducted at the Hirda rest house. &ldquoThe decision was important for hotel business as in the last 15 months it had suffered a lot,&rdquo said President of Panchgani Hotels and Welfare Association Javed Sunesra. &ldquoWe had presented our standard operating procedures (SOP&rsquos) in a meeting with the administration. Every ten days we will conduct an RT-PCR test for staff and once the vaccines are available to complete staff will be vaccinated.&rdquo
During the review meeting, representatives from the police informed the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar, about the huge crowd of travellers going for trekking or to visit religious spots and for outings during the weekend. The minister said that a 15-day quarantine order will be passed for those traveling out of Pune district if leisure activities continue in large numbers in order to curb the spread of the virus.
On June 19, Mahabaleshwar had already received a decent crowd of visitors at the Venna lake.
Meanwhile, in another popular Maharashtra hill station, Lonavla, all sight-seeing destinations remain closed in order to avoid overcrowding.
In Kolhapur, all the monsoon tourism spots are still shut for tourists. The waterfalls in the Radhanagri region and the Dajipur wildlife sanctuary will also remain closed throughout the monsoon.