In a move lauded by entrepreneurs as a much-needed breather for the virus-ravaged industry, Nepal has abolished the quarantine requirement and reinstated on-arrival visas.
Nepal on Thursday swept aside the seven-day quarantine rule and resumed giving on-arrival visas to all vaccinated international travelers in a move to bring its virus-ravaged tourism economy back to life.
Visitors should have had their last dose of Covid-19 vaccination at least 14 days before arriving in Nepal. On-arrival visas are not available to those who have not been vaccinated or who have only been partially vaccinated. They must get entry permits from Nepali diplomatic posts and spend 10 days in quarantine at hotels on the government’s list.
According to a new travel protocol released on Thursday, all visitors to Nepal must have a negative RT-PCR, Gene Expert, or True NAAT test. At immigration checkpoints, all travelers must submit to antigen or rapid antigen tests.
The new protocol was issued under the Infectious Disease Act (1964), after the government’s Covid-19 Crisis Management Ordinance (2020), along with a dozen other ordinances, went ineffective on September 16 after failing to pass Parliament within the constitutional time.
The revised travel protocol under the previous Infectious Disease Act was approved by the Cabinet on Monday.
“We have approved the removal of the quarantine requirement for all vaccinated travellers arriving in Nepal from all international destinations and updated the travel procedures effective from Thursday, September 23,” Taranath Adhikari, a spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, told the Post. “The measures are expected to boost the country’s tourism industry.”
According to the travel protocol published by the Tourism Ministry on Thursday, all vaccinated travelers must present a negative Covid-19 test result taken 72 hours prior to departure, and fill out the international travelers’ online form at www.ccmc.gov.np and have a printed copy to apply for an on-arrival visa at the airport, reports the Kathmandu Post.
If they test positive, they will be transported to a Health Ministry-recommended isolation center or hospital. Foreigners must take the test at the hotel if there is no antigen testing facility at the airport or immigration point, according to the new rules. They will be allowed to leave the hotel if the test comes back negative.
“Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated tourists have to mandatorily quarantine themselves at the hotel for 10 days at their own expense. On the 11th day, if they test negative, they are free to travel,” according to the new guideline, if they test negative on the 11th day, they are free to travel.
All expenditures for testing for Covid-19, isolation, and insurance should be met by the travelers themselves. Travel and trekking agencies are in charge of enforcing all of the new rule’s requirements of Nepal.
Quarantine and isolation will be implemented by the hotels. According to the rule, if visitors do not follow the guidelines, the hotel must notify the police or other relevant institutions.
“Though a delayed decision, it is a huge boost for the country’s tourism industry,” said Khum Bahadur Subedi, head of the Nepal Trekking Agencies Association, the Kathmandu Post adds. “We expect a partial recovery in arrivals this autumn, the country’s peak tourism season. There are high hopes for a full spring season recovery if there are no threats of a Covid-19 resurgence,” he said.
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