Pandemic situation to decide the re-opening of gates along the border

Restrictions will be fully lifted only if WHO declares it to be safe

Member of the Parliament (MP) Yeshey Dem from Khamaed-Lunana constituency, during the question and hour session in National Assembly (NA), has sought for an update on the reopening of the border gates.

She highlighted the challenges faced by the business entities and the impact it had on the tourists who would visit the country mostly via road from the Southern dzongkhags. She, therefore, questioned the government’s plan to re-open the gate, the quarantine mode and how things will be implemented.

In response, Foreign Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji, said that the international gates along the border was closed since March 2020 and was done as per the COVID-19 protocol.

“Though the COVID-19 cases are going down globally, the risk still exists. A news in recent times showed about a new variant which is more infectious. Moreover, we are yet to vaccinate the children below the age of five years. Therefore, the re-opening of gates will depend upon the situation,” Lyonpo added.

He further said that they receive recommendations from the Southern COVID-19 Taskforce through which the government will take a decision.

Meanwhile, he said that though the gates along the border are closed, the travel via air is being continued, and similar with the import and export. 

However, he said, “The restrictions are still in place so to avoid the risk of transmission of the virus. Otherwise, it is not that there are travel restrictions.”

Coming to lifting of five-day quarantine system, Lyonpo said that everything will be decided according to the situation, wherein if the situation permits, they might lift the quarantine anytime soon, or if not, it may go on for sometime.

“Our aim is to re-open the tourism by September, and if the 5-day quarantine system is lifted sooner then everything might get back to normal. But I feel that even if things get back to normal, it may not be as good as before,” he said.

He further said that until and unless the World Health Organization (WHO) declares it to be safe, there will be restrictions and COVID-19 protocols in place. 

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