Mt Everest is Open Again

Nepal has opened its borders, international flights will be allowed from low-risk countries
A trekker on their way to Everest Base Camp, Nepal
A trekker on their way to Everest Base Camp, Nepal

After months of lockdown, travellers can now once again think of scaling Mount Everest. The nationwide lockdown has been lifted in Nepal with plans to allow international flights from August 17.

The tourism sector has been struggling since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March. Nepal had closed its borders just before the spring, the season when numerous mountaineers flock to the Himalayas. This has cost the country millions of dollars as well as jobs.

The autumn trekking season usually starts from September till November attracting hundreds of overseas travellers to Nepal.

Initially flights from less affected countries will be allowed to land in Nepal. The list of countries has not been announced yet. Travellers will have to carry a negative COVID-19 certificate. If you arrive in Nepal before August 17, you have to go to state-run quarantine centres. Safety protocols will be followed by all tour operators in the mountains.

Though the government of Nepal has not announced any self-quarantine rules for visitors arriving after August 17, it is doubtful that a fortnightly quarantine will be enforced with the upcoming autumn trekking season. 

Meanwhile, in India, the state government of Uttarakhand has announced that pilgrims from other states can now visit Char Dham with some standard operating procedures (SOP). These include a negative COVID report (to be taken within 72 hours before entering the state), or undergoing a mandatory quarantine period. Visitors will have to undergo registration on the Char Dham Devasthanam Board website where you have to upload the COVID negative report as well as your ID. Rules such as prohibition of entering the sanctum sanctorum, not touching any idols and not offering any sweets or flowers are also listed in the SOP.

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