Forests in West Bengal will open for tourists from September 23 and all zoological gardens including the Alipore Zoo will reopen from October 2 this year, after remaining closed for months due to COVID-19.

Forests usually close down for two months every monsoon – from July 15 to September 15, but this year, forest areas have remained closed for far longer than that in order to contain the pandemic. Alipore Zoo and other zoos across the state, including the one in Darjeeling that draws a large number of people, will be opened from October 5, officials said. Ahead of Durga Puja, this is good news for tourists as well as for those who run establishments around the forest areas. Prolonged closure of hotels in tourist destinations has led to huge losses for businesses.

However, the government is preparing a set of guidelines for travellers, that includes social distancing and wearing of masks as compulsory. The number of people entering zoo premises will also be constantly monitored and controlled. Officials said that jeep rides and other rides too may be allowed, but elephant rides for now may not be started, or may be kept under control with strict monitoring.

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