Nepal sets to reopen Everest to climbers amidst rise in Covid-19 infections

by Abdulmumeen S. Yitta

Nepal officials have disclosed that the South Asian country would reopen Himalayan Mountains including Mount Everest to climbers in the fall season despite rise in coronavirus infections in the country.

Nepal, a country of 30 million people with its economy thriving largely on tourism-generated revenue, is home to about eight of the world’s tallest mountains.

In a statement on Thursday July 30, 2020, Mira Acharya, a tourism department official, said the country had reopened mountaineering on a condition that climbers must abide by the government health protocols.

“We have reopened mountaineering and will issue climbing permits for the autumn season,” Mira said.

In March, mountaineering and trekking were shut down in Nepal to contain spread of coronavirus infections.

This caused Nepal to suffer million of dollars losses in the April-May season. Hundreds of travelers were affected including about 200,000 guides, sherpas and porters.

As the country is still struggling to contain rise in the cases of infections, it remains on its plan to reopen mountaineering.

However, travel restrictions are still in place and international flights remain grounded until middle of August.

According to some expedition organizers, not all usual climbers would be able to take part this season as restrictions are still in place and some climbers would still be held back in a short time.

Ang Tshering Sherpa, an expedition organizer in Kathmandu said, “Some climbers to smaller mountains may come but I have doubts about big ones.”

Apart from reopening mountaineering, hotels and restaurants have also been reopened with a condition that there would be no seminars, conferences, casinos and gyms to avoid gathering.

Speaking about what would constitute priority to people as hotels and restaurants reopen, vice president of the Hotel Association Nepal, Binayak Shah, said, “Now it is about which hotel is safe, not which offers better services,”

As of Thursday, Nepal has recorded about 19,547 coronavirus infections and 52 coronavirus-related deaths. About 14,021 have so far recovered from the virus.

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