Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism has announced it will issue trekking and climbing permits for autumn, 2020. Also, that Kathmandu’s airport will open for “selected” international flights on August 17, 2020. As we have seen for years, Nepal’s public relations is stellar garnishing global press but is weak on details so I remain cautious.
Multiple press articles mention that climbing permits will be issued for Ama Dablam, Manaslu, and other peaks. Local Nepali guides have been marketing climbs, including Everest, for over a month assuming the opening.
The articles have a positive headline, but the details are thin. For example in The Himalayan buried in the story is:
According to the Cabinet decision, flights will be resumed in three phases. In the first phase, flights will be operated to the destinations that are less affected by COVID-19. After that, gradually, flights will be operated to other destinations in the second and third phases. During the initial period of flight resumption, all airline companies will not be allowed to operate all their aircraft at once. Permission to operate aircraft will be given based on the destination and the number of passengers.
Per Johns Hopkins, Nepal still has increasing cases. Also, neighboring India ranks third in the world with cases, well over 1 million.
Quarantine or No Quarantine and Where?
And the question on quarantine is still open:
According to Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, Joint-Spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population, the Health Ministry has been discussing with the stakeholders and experts to decide on whether passengers of the scheduled international flights should go for self-quarantine even after producing the PCR test report.
To be sure, I’m pleased that Nepal seems to have escaped the worst of COVID. While open, it remains to be seen if it is safe. Climbers will still be in close quarters at the base camps and in lodges. As we see here in the US, people are lax about social distancing and wearing masks. All it takes is one asymptomatic person to infect others. Then there is the question of returning home. As before, check with your country’s health or state department for advice on international travel.
Memories are Everything
**All COVD-19 stats from Johns Hopkins University