Gangtok: A day after 99% of the samples sent by Sikkim government for genome sequencing tested positive for the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, the district administration of Darjeeling in neighbouring West Bengal imposed restrictions on travellers from the Himalayan state.
In an order issued by the district magistrate in Darjeeling on July 20, “all in-bound passengers, drivers and helpers from Sikkim shall have to carry the documents to enter Darjeeling”.
The documents needed for entry include certificate or proof of full vaccination (double dose) against COVID-19, RT-PCR negative report conducted 72 hours before arrival or RAT negative report conducted 48 hours before arrival.
The order will come into effect from July 22, Thursday.
Sikkim is largely dependent on West Bengal for supply of essential commodities. A major part of Sikkim’s only land connection to the rest of the country passes through Darjeeling district along NH-10.
All throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Darjeeling had never imposed direct restrictions on travel from Sikkim. This is the first time that the district administration has issued such an order.
Apart from essential commodities, Sikkim also brings in construction materials and medical necessities, among others, from outside the state.
Ever since the Sikkim government eased restrictions on tourism in the state, allowing fully-vaccinated and RT-PCR negative tourists to enter, tourism stakeholders have claimed that over 1,500 tourists have made their way to the state.
There have been complaints of how many commuters have been relying either on fake certificates to enter or exit the state.
The other option has been the one-day permission given by the district authorities of Sikkim to return on the same day after travel to West Bengal.
However, even with the relaxations, many complaints have come from Sikkimese people using high-handedness both for entry and exit at Rangpo and Melli border check-posts.
Meanwhile, the Sikkim government is yet to clarify on the inter-state movement which is highly dependent on Darjeeling district and National Highway-10.
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