Nepal sets to resume flights from August 17
The Nepal Government suspended international and domestic flights in Nepal on March 22 and 24, respectively. The country imposed a nationwide lockdown since that day to prevent the spread of Novel Coronavirus.
Nepal is looking forward to opening domestic and international flights from August 17. A Cabinet meeting was held at Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s residence on Monday, July 20, 2020. With the decrease in COVID-19 cases in Nepal, a significant decision to resume domestic and international flights in Nepal from August 17 was taken at the meeting.
According to the MoHP media briefing (22/7/2020, 16:15), 100 new cases have been registered today, with 18,094 confirmed cases. In the last 24 hours, 3779 RT PCR test was done. The good news is with 207 patients discharged, the total number of recoveries is 12,684 (70.1% of total confirmed cases). However, two deaths were recorded today to take the death toll to 42.
Joint-secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane said, “There are still some countries that are imposing entry restrictions. We will prepare reports on the countries where international flights are not restricted and allow them to enter the country accordingly. We will develop protocols and other required measures for the incoming flights to Nepal.” Besides, he also stated that health and safety protocols have already been developed for domestic flights.
Tourism is the key to the foreign currency earning sector in Nepal. With four months of complete lockdown, tourism is about to collapse. Even with the decision to resume national and international flights in Nepal from August 17, we can hardly say the state will be prepared enough to welcome foreigners.
The Government initially planned to reopen flight service from July 22, which was postponed to August 5. With the latest news, the date for the resumption of international and domestic flights in Nepal is confirmed. Yet, we are not sure how effective this decision will be when the time comes.
The officials and ministers shall do the preparation and hefty exercise to maintain the new normal. As the airport is opening, there are significant chances of entering a higher number of corona virus-infected people.
For example, the Bahamas reopening its border to tourists on July 1 was a regretful decision as there was an abrupt increase of corona cases among incoming travelers.
There have always been pros and cons in every situation. Opening borders may provide a positive opportunity to Nepal and its citizen, but taking an immediate decision without setting fixed protocols might lag the country down.
We hope the Government will come strong enough in three weeks with a sound problem handling system. But what if the system fails? Can the country afford to face another phase of lockdown? Can we sustain tourism in Nepal?