After remaining closed for a gap of six months, national parks, houseboats on backwaters and hill stations are among the 184 destinations in Kerala that have reopened their doors to domestic tourists. The state government announced on Monday that in the first phase of reopening, popular tourist sites such as Jatayupara, Konni Elephant Shelter, Munnar and the backwaters at Alappuzha and Kumarakom, are set to welcome tourists as the festive holiday season draws closer. Beaches in the state, including the popular Kovalam, Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, however, will reopen on November 1, in the second phase of reopening.
Domestic travellers visiting Kerala for less than seven days are exempted from quarantine or coronavirus testing, as long as they register themselves according to the government’s COVID-19 Jagratha protocol. If such tourists decide to extend their stay in the state beyond seven days, they must undergo a COVID-19 test at a testing facility accredited by the state government or the ICMR, and remain in paid quarantine till the test results are declared.
Visitors who intend to stay in Kerala for more than seven days must carry a COVID-19 negative certificate issued by a testing facility accredited by their home state government or the ICMR, not more than 48 hours prior to arrival. In case they cannot produce said certificate, visitors can undergo a RT-PCR test or antigen test on arrival, followed by seven days of mandatory quarantine. On the seventh day, they can choose to undergo another test, or remain in quarantine for another week, i.e., a total of 14 days.
Additionally, tourists as well as hospitality establishments and tourism operators are required to follow strict social distancing guidelines and other precautionary measures. For instance, houseboat operators are permitted to board only up to 50 per cent of their full capacity, and regular disinfection of the boats is a must.
Tourists may also be required to undergo contactless thermal screening, and adhere to guidelines on wearing face masks and submitting health declaration forms. Only online bookings made in advance will be accepted for accommodation and other activities to minimise inter-personal contact.
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