COVID-19 prevention SOPs issued for tourism
LAHORE:ON the recommendations of Technical Working Group (TWG), Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department (P&SHD) has issued the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for resumption of tourism in the Punjab province.
According to the P&SHD, COVID-19 is a highly transmissible virus which spreads through respiratory droplets produced during coughing, sneezing and talking of the infected person. These droplets may contaminate the surfaces and hands.
According to the medical expert’s carefully prepared reports, touching eyes, mouth and nose with contaminated hands transmits the coronavirus. The participants in tourism (service providers and tourists) are highly prone to sharing surfaces, catch infectious agents, and wider dispersal and transmission of the infectious agent.
Therefore, strict compliance to hand hygiene, social distancing, environmental cleanliness and abstinence from touching shared surfaces is required in letter and spirit. As precautionary measures, the government has issues SOPs for all the stakeholders in the tourism industry, including the tourists.
Ensuring hand washing with soap and water for 40 seconds or rubbing hands with 60 per cent alcohol-based sanitizer for 20 seconds has been advised.
Hand hygiene has been advised to the tourists and the people associated with the tourism industry especially after touching surfaces. Tourists have been asked to keep at least a one metre distance from other humans and avoid touching surfaces.
A good stock of hand sanitizer should be a necessary part of tourists travel accessories. They must avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth, especially when their hands are not clean.
A stock of face masks and their availability to staff members and tourists should be ensured. Tourism staff and tourists should wear masks, especially in closed and crowded places. The SOPs maintain that the face masks should never be shared and one should avoid touching the inside of a mask.
In the context of physical social distancing, the SOPs emphasise on day travel, where feasible and limiting the entry and placement of tourists/guests to 60 per cent of total capacity of the tourist points, vehicles and motels/rest houses and guesthouses. For hill stations, Tourism Department should devise and implement appropriate entry and crowd control mechanism.
Separate entry and exit points should be made and a spatial distance of 6ft should be ensured at the entry and exit, and inside tourist points. The SOPs strongly discourage handshakes, hugging and any type of unnecessary physical contact. The SOPs also advise that online booking should be implemented.
The stakeholders have been directed to keep the tourist places clean with disinfectants.Where air–conditioning facility is provided, machine-assisted ventilation after six hours and regular washing of air filters of the air-conditioners should be ensured. Cell phones and cameras, etc. must not be shared unless wiped with alcohol/spirit swabs.
The directions for the stakeholders in the tourism related activities include informing the authorities concerned on 1033 helpline in the event of fever with cough and sore throat to a person since these symptoms are considered as the symptoms of COVID-19.
The tourism authorities and district administration have been directed to deploy staff at the tourist points to monitor COVID-19 prevention SOPs and mobilise the tourists for compliance.
The SOPs have laid a special emphasis on COVID-19 awareness among the tourists, under which, awareness material on COVID-19 prevention at the entries to tourist points in the entire province of the Punjab is necessary.