Access to tourist sites blocked to avoid gathering

Salalah: Access to most of the tourist sites in and around Dhofar has been blocked keeping in mind COVID-19 precautions, to avoid gatherings and prevent people from catching the virus.

Even though Dhofar Governorate is under lockdown in terms of entry and exit at the governorate’s borders, the local people have fancy for those sites in the Khareef (monsoon) season.

“In normal times you hardly have space at those tourist sites. Sometimes there is a situation when you have to park your vehicle far behind, maybe one kilometer, to reach Wadi Darbat. But these days the site looks deserted. No cars, no people…moreover, the Royal Oman Police has put up barricades at some locations,” said Rajesh, an avid traveller of tourist sites in Dhofar.

Water is there, spring is running, but the fear of the pandemic is holding people from visiting places. Some people are taking chance with full care of masks, sanitisers and moving with a limited number of people in a car to maintain social distancing, but they are missing the humdrum of the season which used to be during the normal days.

“The authorities are more active on weekends keeping in mind movement on off days. We noticed the police directing the visitors to go away from the sites which are popular among the tourists. Even then taking a small round on off days is not a bad idea,” said another Salalah resident.

Salem al Mashani works and stays in Salalah, but every weekend he visits his ancestral house in one of the mountain villages. He admits he misses the thrill of the season because this is the time relatives and friends from all over the country would visit Salalah to have fun. “It used to be a great reunion of family and friends, but in the current situation precaution is must to keep the pandemic under control.”

“It is a good idea to keep these sites closed for some time to avoid gatherings. Now the authorities can do some minor or major maintenance of those sites and set strict guidelines for visits when they open again,” he said.