Sikkim is the only Indian state without a single COVID-19 positive case and in order to keep it that way, its government has decided to close its borders for Indians and foreigners till October 2020. The fact that there that nobody has tested positive for coronavirus is an excellent achievement for the state, which boasts of a population of 7 lakh.

Just last week the government also shut the border trade route –Nathula – and also took the decision to cancel Kailash Mansarovar Yatra – a trip many pilgrims take every year between June and September. The pass is the entry point for Indo-China trade, which was set to begin from May. The trade between the two countries resumed in 2006 after 40 years. Along with this, the pandemic has also put an end to any possible entry for pilgrims along with several other annual pilgrimages. 

Initially, the north-eastern Indian state, Sikkim was also one of the first states to ban entry of tourists and also migrant labourers. However, those labourers stuck in the state are being well taken care of. They are being given money and necessary and medicines for survival.

Lachung, a small town in North Sikkim © Journo Travellers

“Sikkim’s tourism sector has been severely hit due to the coronavirus outbreak, with the state government losing out revenue of more than INR 10 crore,” Sikkim Tourism Minister B S Panth said, according to news reports.

He further added,” The state government is assessing the losses incurred by various stakeholders due to COVID-19 and will send a report to the Centre, requesting it to adequately compensate all those who have lost business and livelihood due to disruption in tourism-related activities in Sikkim.”

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India will be under lockdown at least till May 3, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14. Given that there are more and more being tested positive for COVID-19 daily, the lockdown might continue in certain parts, but in areas with zero cases, the restrictions might be lifted gradually in the coming days.