The Srinagar administration has roped in five-star hotels The Lalit and Taj Vivanta overlooking the picturesque Dal Lake and other luxury lodges as paid quarantine facilities to ensure a relaxed and hassle-free stay for those flying into the city from other parts of the country and abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The administration has enlisted around 40 luxury lodges for the purpose and capped the tariffs at a “fair and reasonable” level so as not to burden those returning home under such a difficult scenario, a top official said.
Several houseboats have also been designated as paid quarantine facilities, Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Choudhary said.
The administration's initiative to enlist luxury hotels has received a warm response with nearly 48 per cent of those arriving in the city from outside opting for them, he said.
The remaining 52 per cent of the flyers opted for institutional quarantine established by the government.
The number of arrivals at the Srinagar airport has been growing since the domestic air travel was partially resumed on May 25 after two months of suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
In addition to domestic flyers, a large number of residents of Jammu and Kashmir are being brought back from abroad in special flights under the government's 'Vande Bharat Mission'.
Giving details of the paid accommodations, Choudhary said the hotels have been made available in three categories with prices ranging from Rs 1,200 to Rs 600 per day on single occupancy and Rs 900 to Rs 400 per day on double occupancy.
The administration has also capped the cost of three meals at Rs 500 at the paid quarantine centres, he said.
Quarantine at hotels like Taj Vivanta and Lalit Grand Palace, a hotel which is known for its scenic surrounding and where several Hindi films have been shot, is available on demand with around 50 per cent discount in tariffs.
After initial hesitation, the number of air travellers has increased and only 25 of them have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
Choudhary said the air operations at the Srinagar International Airport, which started on May 25, has been functioning with a perfect management of arrivals, testing and quarantine of travellers.
"International flights from Riyadh, Dammam, Doha, Muscat and Jeddah have already started arriving in addition to the Dubai flight received last week and earlier flights from Bangladesh. One flight carrying 148 passengers from Riyadh landed in Srinagar on May 29 while one flight each from Dammam and Doha with 147 and 88 passengers respectively is scheduled to arrive on Sunday. Another flight from Muscat is scheduled for June 2 and one from Jeddah on June 4," he said.
Besides the paid quarantine, 3,000-bedded institutional quarantine facilities have been kept in readiness.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration had earlier notified its air arrival policy mandating up to 14 days of quarantine unless tested negative for COVID-19.
The arriving passengers are getting their test reports within 24 hours of arrival and being relieved from quarantine centres on testing negative, the deputy commissioner said.
Choudhary said a total of 2,462 passengers were received in Srinagar, including 382 on Saturday.
So far, Choudhary said, 25 air travellers have tested COVID-19 positive in Srinagar at quarantine centres and shifted to hospitals.
"Their contacts in flights have also been put under quarantine," he said.
Before May 25, he said Srinagar received 4 flights from Bangladesh with medical students on board and one from Dubai. For international flights, one week quarantine is mandatory even with a negative test.
More than 80 data entry operators and medical staff from Srinagar have been deployed at the airport for hassle-free, smooth and quick registration, screening and sampling on arrival, he said.