UPDATE: October 2, 2020: In a dramatic reversal, and evidence of poorly thought out processes, the Nepal government now says there will not be a required seven-day quarantine for foreigners and the will provide “instant antigen test for COVID-19 for foreign tourists upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport.”
This change reinforces my previous stance: stay at home until the world figures out this virus – at least into 2021.
Nepal continues to experience record COVID cases and deaths to date, yet the Nepal government eager to appease the plight of the trekking and mountaineering community finalized the rules for foreigners entering Nepal starting on October 17, 2020. The key point is that every foreigner must stay in a hotel for 7 days under quarantine upon arrival. This alone precludes the majority of climbers and trekkers for 2020.
The Himalayan Times had a good report, given there was no English version of the announcement widely available. For me, I would wait until 2021. The highlights include that every foreigner must:
- Secure an entry-visa in their country, not on-demand in Kathmandu
- Carry a PCR test report conducted not more than 72 hours ago, attesting that the person has tested negative for Covid-19
- Have booking-documents for the hotel wherein they will stay for at least seven days in quarantine
- Must provide papers proving they have insurance of USD 5,000 (not specified what for)
- Undergo a PCR test at their own expense on the fifth day of being quarantined (where and how are unclear)
- They may proceed only on testing negative for the disease
- If the test results are positive, the person must stay in quarantine for as long as they do not test negative
- Trekking or mountaineering agencies must ensure travelers from Nepal against coronavirus for a sum of Rs 100,000 prior to applying for a permit
If you go, consider the following:
- Will be allowed to enter Nepal from your home country? It’s uncertain if Nepal is banning visitors from certain countries
- What are your re-patriation plans if you get sick? Your home country may not let you come home.
- Will your travel insurance cover your evacuation back home? A Pandemic is different than anything else.
- Are there enough critical care beds available in Nepal? Recent reports say no. If you get sick, you may be in trouble.
- What evidence do you have that Nepal’s hotel, restaurants, transportation, and guide services will follow common-sense protocols? The tourism industry is starving for business so take any assurance with a grain of salt, including from trekking and climbing guides.
I know Nepal is suffering from a lack of tourist’s money, but now is not the time to go there (or to the US). There is a serious lack of hospital resources, protocol, and government transparency. While I wish only the best for Nepal and all the countries depending on tourism the best, now is not the time to go,.
Memories are Everything