Working from home, a factor of life in the Covid pandemic, appears to have become “Work of Himachal Pradesh” as thousands of people flocked to the mountain state to escape the confines of their homes and the heat, says the general director of the Police of Himachal Pradesh Sanjay Kundu.

While the state’s economy is enjoying a welcome boost, the crowds are a cause for concern, not only in popular destinations like Shimla and Manali but also in lesser-known cities like Naggar and Jibhi, he said, calling for appropriate behavior from Covid tourists. The tourist rush has added another level of responsibility to the police, who have set up checkpoints at various entry and exit points in the cities to ensure that Covid standards are met.

“Given the persistent homework culture (WFH) that is being adopted by many corporations and multinationals, we see it almost turned out to be the work of Himachal Pradesh,” Kundu told PTI. It is good for the state’s economy, he said. “But at the same time, we need to remain vigilant that people are following guidelines, including wearing masks and maintaining social distance,” he added.

“We are geared towards welcoming everyone to Himachal Pradesh, but please follow all guidelines,” said the 1989 IPS official, concerned about the spread of Covid in the state. Since last year’s pandemic, India has been on lockdown and gradually opening in March last year – law enforcement agencies have fined Rs 5 crore from tourists and others for violating COVID norms.

While pictures of queues of cars waiting to enter Shimla and crowds of people in Manali make national headlines, Kundu said the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass was the most haunted tourist spot this month, with 47,000 vehicles passing through it. The highest number was on July 4th when 7,384 vehicles passed the tunnel into the Lahul Valley. The nine-kilometer tunnel was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October last year.

After the government waived the need for a mandatory e-passport and RTPCR test on June 14, around 18,500 vehicles drove into the state per day, he said. “In the past two weeks, visitors have been fined around 40 lakh for violating standards to prevent the pandemic from spreading in the state,” he said.

There have been some ugly scenes where tourists misbehaved after being fined to police officers. “We welcome everyone to Himachal Pradesh who obeys the rules. The fines are more of an advisory nature and it is up to the people to adopt Covid-compliant behavior for their own safety, “added Kundu.

Aside from well-known tourist spots like Manali, Kasauli, Shimla, Dalhousie and Dharamshala, people have booked host families in lesser-known places like Malana, Naggar, Narkanda, Jibhi, Bir Bling and Dharamkot, the police chief said. “The state government has allowed people to open up to tourists, so many places have been registered as part of the homestay plan. So people from other parts of the country booked together for months and work from there, ”he said. The state reported 128 new cases on Thursday. There are 1,307 active cases with 3,486 deaths, according to the Union’s Ministry of Health on Friday.