Alappuzha: Houseboats, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kerala, have resumed services after a long interval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, strict regulations are in place considering the prohibitory orders issued in the state to reopen the tourism sector from October 15.
On the first day, 89 visitors boarded 18 houseboats from Finishing Point and 20 tourists took a ride on five houseboats from Pallathuruthy to enjoy the sights of the backwaters. All the tourists were from Kerala. No foreigners or travellers from other states reached Alappuzha for houseboat trips, said authorities.
Every traveller had to undergo thermal scanning before boarding the houseboat. The luggage was also sanitized before letting inside the boats. These tasks, carried out by employees of Tourism and Health Departments and houseboat staff, were led by Deputy Director of Tourism T G Abhilash Kumar.
The houseboats also were sanitized and social distancing between tourists and houseboat staff was ensured. Another safety measure was the denial of permission for tourists to visit the villages in Kuttanad during the trip.
The authorities have allowed houseboats to conduct services from 9 am to 5 pm. Meanwhile, they have warned of strict action against houseboats violating COVID-19 protocols and deployed sectoral magistrates appointed by the District Collector at Finishing Point and Pallathuruthy to identify law-breakers.
Travellers will have to produce a COVID negative certificate on arrival. Registration can be done at https://covid19jagratha.kerala.nic.in/ portal. However, if they experience COVID-19 symptoms at any point during their time in Kerala, quarantine is mandatory and their return is likely delayed (possible only after they test negative again). Those who already have symptoms are advised to not travel.