The Centre on Tuesday took note of crowding in hill stations and stressed on the importance of following Covid-appropriate behaviour.

At a health ministry press conference, government officials showed pictures of tourists jostling in cities like Mussorie, Manali and Shimla.

“The pictures that we have seen today are frightening and we have to be very careful, very responsible and very cautious,” said Balram Bhargava, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Bhargava also said some states are still in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic, despite daily infections declining, PTI reported. “The areas reporting a test positivity rate of over 10% have to impose/reinstate certain restrictive measures which have shown to be time tested and found to be effective because the virus is still lurking around,” he added.

Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry, warned that restrictions may be imposed again if people continue to flout Covid guidelines. “People are indulging in revenge travel with restrictions being lifted,” he said. “Once the restrictions were relaxed, people probably started thinking the virus must have become ineffective. The infection is still very much present. If people do not wear masks and not maintain physical distancing, it could nullify all the gains we have made so far in terms of Covid management.”

Photos and videos on social media showed tourists heading to hill stations in large numbers over the last few weeks as curbs were eased in several states.

On Monday, Director of Himachal Pradesh tourism department Amit Kashyap said the state has received 6-7 lakh tourists since the Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed in June, ANI reported. Meanwhile, the Delhi government on Monday ordered the closure of all shops in Lajpat Nagar’s Central Market and Sadar Bazar’s Rui Mandi for “gross violation” of Covid-19 protocols.

The crowding in these places was despite the fact that the prospect of a third wave looms, with some entities projecting it to hit as early as in August.

On Tuesday, India recorded 34,703 new Covid-19 cases, taking its tally since the pandemic broke out in January 2020 to 3,06,19,932. This was the lowest daily rise in cases in 111 days. India’s toll rose to 4,03,281 with 553 more deaths. The number of active cases in the country stood at 4,64,357.