PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned the ‘controlled’ reopening of the tourist areas with low coronavirus incidence after Eidul Azha, claim officials.
Officials told Dawn that the plan called ‘bubble tourism’ was conceived by the National Tourism Coordination Board headed by special assistant to the prime minister Zulfi Bukhari.
They said Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, who holds the tourism portfolio, would decide about the tourism reopening after Eid.
The officials said the government would monitor the Covid-19 situation for around a week after Eid in tourist areas before ordering the reopening of those, which were no longer virus hotspots, for ‘controlled tourism’.
“In the first phase, only families will be allowed to visit those areas,” an official said.
Officials say initially, families will get access to such places
He said restaurants and parks would also reopen in such areas as their continued closure would serve no purpose.
The official said the standard operating procedures made by the tourism department for the reopening of tourism had been notified after approval by the cabinet.
According to the SOPs, hotels and restaurants in those areas will display instructions for employees and customers on how to prevent Covid-19.
They will follow the federal government’s guidelines regarding Covid-19 testing and quarantine for international guests and inform domestic tourists about the requirement of adherence to SOPs.
In addition, the eateries and hotels will record information about general health needs of a guest for assistance from local health authorities if required.
“For the guest transport provided by the hotels, the drivers will have to wear masks and gloves and vehicles, the guest travelling should be reasonably disinfected after every arrival/departure. The hotels should also ensure to keep guest instructions at backseats and the booklet must cover all steps being taken by hotel for safety and sanitisation.”
According to SOPs, the hotels also ensure temperature checks at the entrance and if possible disinfectant walkthrough gate must be placed at the entrance.
For all pre-booked guests, check-in formalities will be completed online to reduce contact and time at the front desk, while the desk staff should wear face masks and gloves.
The hotels will also ensure that no more than two people in single occupancy room and four people in double occupancy room and where possible separate check-out counters be established.
Depending on the size of elevator not more than two people would be allowed to take a ride at the same time.
For restaurants, it will mandatory to make all serving staff wearing gloves and masks, while the number of tables will be reduced to maintain social distancing. The SOPs declare that if possible, disposable plates and cutlery should be used and disposable napkins should be used.
The relevant district administration in coordination with the police and directorate of tourist services will ensure SOP implementation, while the area-specific implementation committee will be notified by the respective deputy commissioners.
An official said the provincial government had also planned to open sporting activities in three phases and a proposal had been shared with the inter-provincial coordination department for the purpose.
He said individual practice would be allowed in the first phase, group practice in in the second and sporting events in the last.
The official said SOPs had been drafted for the opening of sporting events.
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2020