Covid: vaccine priority for tourism staff in Bengal

The state government has decided to include workers in the tourism sector in the priority group for vaccination, a move that has brought a sigh of relief to an industry among the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, it is not clear whether the nearly three workers at the North Bengal Lakh Tea Gardens are included on the vaccination priority list.

The list published by the Bengal Department of Health and Family Welfare also includes those working in micro, small and medium enterprises, Khadi workers, weavers, rice paddlers, flour mills and cold stores as well. than “industrial workers”.

Confusion reigns as to whether tea workers fall under the category of “industrial workers”.

Tea and tourism are the pillars of the economy of the hills.

“We hope that workers in the tea industry will fall under the category of industrial workers,” said Sandeep Mukherjee, senior advisor, Darjeeling Tea Association.

Darjeeling District Magistrate S. Poonambalam, however, said he would seek clarification from higher authorities on whether tea workers were on the priority list.

“However, many tea workers over the age of 45 have been vaccinated.”

In addition to workers in the tourism sector, domestic workers, cable TV operators and staff of TV stations have been included in the new list.

“The decision of the state government to include workers in the tourism sector in the priority group has become a huge

relief because this industry is one of the most affected sectors, ”said Tashi Pencho, owner of the Seven Seventeen hotel in Darjeeling, which also has a restaurant.

The state government has decided to open restaurants from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. starting Saturday, provided that all employees of an establishment are vaccinated.

A survey conducted for the Union’s tourism service in 2015 suggested that nearly 64% of staff working in hotels and restaurants were under 40.

Enrollment in the priority group ensures that people in the 18-44 age group can also be vaccinated quickly. Most vaccination camps in Bengal only vaccinate people over 45 years old.

The Darjeeling Hills are one of the main tourist attractions in Bengal. The hill town alone has some 350 hotels. There are also over 2,500 foster families that have emerged in recent times. Right now, most hotels are closed in the hills due to restrictions caused by the pandemic.

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