…current restriction is the continuation of the existing protocols. Monkeypox is adding on the risk.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Unless it is necessary, people will not be allowed to travel across the border until the international gate opens.

This comes after some Bhutanese were found crossing the border for “petty issues.”

Some sources in Phuentsholing town said that a woman had gone across the border seven times for no particularly good reason.

Some were even caught trying to smuggle in drugs.

However, the Southern Covid-19 Task Force’s (SC19TF) chairman, Kinlay Tshering, said the decision to restrict “unnecessary movements” was not because of such cases.

“We all know the international border is still closed,” she said. “And the pandemic is still on and highly transmissible Covid-19 sub-variants and monkeypox cases are being reported in the neighbouring countries.”

Due to this, unnecessary movements cannot be allowed, she said, pointing out that people shouldn’t get exposed to such threats.

Despite the international border gate still being closed, the chairman said the task force has been facilitating an exit for important programmes and agendas, such as further studies, capacity building, and health and medical services, including for death cases.

All these were done through travel clearance from the department of immigration.

However, the task force was directed by the government to do away with the travel clearance last month.

“People definitely misused this relaxation,” the SC19TF chairman said.

SC19TF said the numbers of people exiting the gate and the positive cases were increasing drastically.

The international gate in Phuentsholing will be opened on September 23.

A multi-facility terminal is being constructed at the border gate.