Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy on Monday urged Indians to follow Covid-19 protocol while travelling, PTI reported. His remark came amid crowding at hill stations in blatant violation of safety norms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reddy said that the government didn’t want to stop people from travelling. “But it is our responsibility to keep everyone safe,” he added. The minister said that the only way to contain the pandemic was for the government and the citizens to work together.

“Each individual of this country has to be a Covid warrior and only then can we defeat this [the pandemic],” he said. “I appeal to all tourists on behalf of the government of India to follow protocols which have been placed for their own safety.”

Reddy urged citizens not to forget how Covid-19 affected their hometowns and think twice before flouting safety norms.

India is still recovering from the aftermath of the second wave, which at its peak in May saw more than 4 lakh cases and thousands of deaths every day. Several states experienced crippling shortages of oxygen, hospital beds, medical supplies and vaccines during the second wave, leading to citizens taking to social media to ask for help.

Experts have issued repeated warnings about the imminent third wave of the pandemic but this has not deterred those travelling to hill destinations. Last week, a video from Kempty falls in Mussoorie in Uttarakhand showed tourists standing dangerously close together and not wearing masks. Several other visuals of tourists violating Covid safety norms have emerged online.

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  2. Third wave of Covid inevitable, warns IMA, tells states that pilgrimage, tourism can wait

Earlier on Monday, the Indian Medical Association cautioned the central and state governments that the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic was inevitable and imminent. The doctors’ association said that “tourist bonanza, pilgrimage travel, religious fervour” could wait and the people should follow Covid protocols for at least three more months.

Last week, the Centre took note of crowding at hill stations and warned that it will re-introduce Covid-19 curbs. Lav Agarwal, health ministry joint secretary, said that with the lifting of restrictions, people were undertaking “revenge travel”.

“The infection is still very much present,” he had said. “If people do not wear masks and [do] not maintain physical distancing, it could nullify all the gains we have made so far in terms of Covid management.”

India recorded 37,154 new coronavirus cases and 724 deaths in 24 hours on Monday morning. With this, the country’s tally of infections rose to 3,08,74,376 and the toll went up to 4,08,764 since the pandemic broke out in January last year.