Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, December 25
Social distancing norms were thrown to the winds as tourists thronged the ‘Queen of Hills’ on Friday to celebrate Christmas and New Year. The hotels were packed to capacity even as the town’s Mall Road, Lower Bazaar and The Ridge saw crowds of merrymakers. President of the Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association Sanjay Sood said it was owing to the relaxation in the night curfew and permission to shops to open on Sunday that there had been a surge in the tourist numbers.
“Few are wearing face masks. Despite the Covid pandemic, it seems like a carnival,” observed a local resident, rather anxiously. Many tourists parked their vehicles along the roads, leading to congestion, despite the heavy police deployment to ensure there were no traffic jams.
Shimla SP Mohit Chawla said on an average 50-55 challans were issued for flouting the face mask norm. He said eight police teams were in the field to ensure that the Covid SOPs were strictly adhered to and till day 3,877 challans had been issued in the district. “However, there are limitations. Families cannot be asked to separate,” he explained.
Not disappointed over a white Christmas, a couple from Ludhiana said, “We have come out almost after eight months and this amazing atmosphere in Shimla has made the trip memorable.”