We reported yesterday that China had cancelled its spring climbing season on the Tibetan side of Everest due to the spread of the novel coronavirus and today Nepal has followed suit. Nepali government officials have announced that all tourist visas will be suspended until 30 April.
According to the BBC, the decision was reached by a committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokhrel. 'As of now, all issued permits and permits yet to be issued for the 2020 Everest season will be cancelled,' the committee stated.
The decision is a major cause for concern for local Sherpas who depend on the expedition season for earning a sufficient income. Lakpa Sherpa told the BBC: 'My nine Chinese clients and a Japanese client have cancelled already. Many trekking teams are not coming, which is a big loss for sherpas like us who make most of our money during this time.'
Up until yesterday, Nepali officials had avoided an outright ban by temporarily suspending the visa-on arrival process for visitors from eight coronavirus hotspots - China, Iran, Italy, Korea, Japan, France, Germany and Spain. Travellers were asked to collect visas in their home country via embassies and consulates before travelling to Nepal, which was effective from 10 March. Officials had also announced an additional visa step for nationals of these countries in the form of acquiring a health certificate proving a negative test for COVID-19, which was to be carried out within 7 days prior to arrival.