Little footfall in gardens on first day of opening

A small gathering of people is being seen at Nishat garden on Wednesday, 8 July 2020, after the administration threw open gardens and parks for general public. The announcement was made as part of the gradual unlocking process of covid-19 pandemic. Habib Naqash

Three months after they were closed in the wake of covid19 outbreak, the gardens and the parks in the Valley were thrown open for people on Wednesday.

Although there was little footfall, the authorities ensured that covid19 guidelines were observed by the visitors.

Earlier, the government on Tuesday had announced that parks and gardens will reopen today while asking visitors to follow all the guidelines such as wearing of facemasks, maintaining of social distance, etc.

Sanitizers had been put at the entry points of all parks and gardens and the visitors were allowed only after going through thermal scanners. “Entry was barred for those without facemasks,” said an official.

For many visitors, having leisure while wearing facemasks was a different but “welcome” experience. “The kids were bored at home during the lockdown and were eagerly waiting for an outing. Now that gardens are open, I got my family to enjoy beauty of nature”, said Ikramullah at a Mughal Garden.

“One could not have imagined that we will be visiting gardens and parks with a mask on our face and sanitizers in our hand. Last season the same garden was abuzz with people but now there are just a handful of visitors”, said Mehmooda Khan at a city garden.

Yawar Ahmad, a student said at Nishat garden said: “It is good to be back among nature. I will be visiting the garden again on Sunday with my cousins and family.”

Earlier this year, the pandemic had proved to be a dampener for the popular Tulip garden on the banks of Dal lake. With more than 12 lakh tulips, the garden had no visitors this season due to the lockdown owing to Covid-19.

When contacted, Javed Masood, Floriculture Officer of Mughal Gardens said that the footfalls at the historic gardens was little on Wednesday but added that rush of visitors “is expected to increase in the coming days”.

Masood said it was being ensured that all Covid-19 related guidelines are followed thoroughly.

Meanwhile, tourism players of the Valley have welcomed reopening of parks and gardens, and submitted a list of “recommendations” to the government for restarting tourism business in the Valley.

“Tourists who have done Covid-19 test within 48 hours from arrival into J&K and tested negative should be allowed to holiday here. Their travel itinerary should not be more than a week (sic),” it reads.

“Tourists only with pre-booked tour arrangements should be allowed to enter J&K,” it said.

“All other facilities such as swimming pools, etc. should remain closed. Restaurants (should be allowed) to operate with 50 per cent capacity while cable car, taxis, pony saddles, etc. should be sanitised on regular basis before use,” it said.