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Fact Check: Viral Manali Crowd Photo Turns Out to be Old, But Maskless Tourists Did Throng Streets

Viral photo of Manali Courtesy: Twitter.

Viral photo of Manali Courtesy: Twitter.

While the picture is not of July, tourists have indeed been seen flouting COVID-19 norms following the second wave of COVID-19.

Many raised eyebrows after a photo of Manali’s Mall Road went viral where tourists were seen thronging the place. However, reverse image search has revealed that the photograph was taken on January 1, 2021.

The photograph was falsely circulated on social media as recent. Alt News, a fact checking website, found a Facebook post dated January 24 of this year, where it is captioned as Manali’s Mall Road and attributed to ‘Amigosblink’.

The website then found Amingosblink’s January 23, 2021 post containing the image using a keyword search on Facebook. When they contacted the page for more information, Ajay Kumar, the administrator running this page, stated that he had taken the snapshot on December 31, 2020.

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While the picture is not of July, tourists have indeed been seen flouting Covid-19 norms following the second wave. Traffic congestion on the way to Manali and large a number of people, some maskless, were spotted visiting shopping districts with no social distancing.

“The virus is still between us… one mistake can give the virus a chance to spread among us," senior health ministry official Lav Agarwal had warned during a media briefing after videos of the area went viral.

Manali was not the only case, crowd was also seen at Mussoorie’s Kempty Falls and Haridwar’s Har ki Pauri.

Highlighting the same issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said, “It is true that tourism and tourism business have been greatly affected due to Corona. But today I will say very emphatically that it is not okay to have huge crowds in hill stations, markets without wearing masks.

There was public outrage after pictures and videos surfaced on social media of traffic congestion on the way to famous hill stations like Manali. Large numbers of people, some maskless, were seen visiting shopping districts with no social distancing. Health ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said that tourists visiting hill stations were not abiding by COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. He warned that it could nullify the gains made in managing the pandemic so far.

He further stated that the Centre might reintroduce restraints if people do not follow pandemic guidelines. Highlighting that the pandemic was not yet over, he described the images of many people going to popular hill stations as “frightening."

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first published:July 13, 2021, 13:49 IST