The administrations of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, which share borders with Sikkim, have issued separate notifications imposing conditions on the entry of people from the neighbouring Himalayan state.
The restrictions, to kick in from Thursday, come close on the heels of the Sikkim government announcing that 97 patients in the neighbouring state had been detected with the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The notifications issued by the district magistrates state that people, including drivers and helpers of vehicles, can enter Kalimpong and Darjeeling districts through border points at Rangpo and Melli from Sikkim only if they have a double-vaccination certificate or the negative report of an RTPCR test done within 72 of their travel or a similar report of a rapid antigen test (RAT) within 48 hours, said an official of the Darjeeling district administration.
A few days back, the Sikkim government imposed similar restrictions for tourists, allowing the entry of fully vaccinated people only. In case of a family where some members are fully vaccinated but others are aged below 18 years or have got only the first dose, they can enter Sikkim with a negative report of an RTPCR test not older than 72 hours.
The Bengal government had imposed similar restrictions at the interstate border of Assam a recently amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in the Northeast.
Those associated with the tourism industry have welcomed the decision but pointed out that the administrations of both Darjeeling and Kalimpong need to clarify rules for entry of tourists from within Bengal itself. They pointed out that in some places of Bengal like Digha, Santiniketan and western Dooars (under Jalpaiguri district), local administrative notifications for tourists mandate an RTPCR negative report or vaccination certificate before hotel check-in. No such notification has come from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Alipurduar. “A specific notification will empower hotel and resort owners to ask their guests for vaccination or test report documents,” said Samrat Sanyal, general secretary, Himalayan Hospitality & Tourism Development Network.