To make arrangements to allow stranded foreigners to fly home
KATHMANDU, March 26: Nepal government has decided to reopen its key border points with China in order to ease the supply of essential goods.
The decision comes at a time when the country is facing a total lockdown amid fears of coronavirus spread.
A high-level committee led by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwar Pokhrel has decided to reopen two border points with China—Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi—by completing the necessary protocols at the earliest. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Finance are mandated to complete the necessary processes for reopening the border points.
Both the border points were closed after the coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China. Although China has largely controlled the virus, it has lately spread across the world including to India, Nepal's southern neighbor.
Both Nepal and India have closed down the border points to human traffic but said cargo movement will remain unaffected. Despite the government assurances, there has been some pressure on supply chains.
Officials believe that reopening of the Chinese border points will ease the supply of essential goods.
Concerned over a possible shortage of cooking gas in the market, the committee has decided to ask the ministries concerned to make necessary arrangements to supply induction stoves in the market at fair prices. The Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation and Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies have been asked to waive taxes on the import of electrical stoves.
Likewise, local governments have been asked to set up quarantine centers and regularly brief the chief district officers on COVID-19 cases, if any.
Similarly, the meeting has decided to make arrangements to allow foreigners stranded in Nepal due to the lockdown to fly back to their home countries.
The decision was taken after a large number of foreigners remain standard in Nepal following the government's decision. Foreigners, who had gone to the Annapurna and Everest regions for trekking, have been asked to return to Kathmandu.
Director General at the Department of Tourism Dandu Raj Ghimire said they have asked the foreign trekkers to return Kathmandu from the Annapurna trekking circuit, Jomsom and the Everest region. France and Russia are preparing to evacuate their nationals by sending chartered flights, according to Ghimire.