Sikkim Shuts Borders for Tourists Till October

It is the only state with zero COVID-19 cases, so far
Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim
Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim

In an attempt to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Sikkim state government has decided to close its borders to tourists till October. So far, Sikkim is the only Indian state with zero COVID-19 cases. According to media reports, the government has decided to keep its borders closed, to both domestic and international tourists, in order to prevent the virus from entering the Himalayan state with an estimated population of 7 lakh. 

All the tested samples in the state so far have been negative. And the government wants to keep it that way. Last week, the Sikkim government also shut the border trade route, Nathu La, along with cancelling this year&rsquos Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. The pass is the entry point for Indo-China trade and was scheduled to open in May. The border trade between India and China was resumed after a gap of more than 40 years, in 2006.

The pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar was set to begin in June, as always. The Ministry of External Affairs organises the yatra from June to September each year through two different routes, Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand) and Nathu La Pass (Sikkim). But the pandemic has put an end to all pilgrimage plans this year. Several other such annual pilgrimages may face a similar situation. For the annual Amarnath yatra, the government has said they will review the situation and make a decision. They may allow it after curtailing the duration and allowing only specific age-group devotees.

Sikkim was also one of the first states to ban the entry of both domestic and international tourists as well as migrant labourers. However, the labourers in the state are being taken care of by the government with food and money for survival. 

Apart from Sikkim, currently Nagaland is also COVID-19 free. Earlier, only one patient had tested positive and was moved to Assam.

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