Since the beginning of April, a letter from the Ministry of Tourism has been doing the rounds on social media. According to the letter, restaurants hotels and resorts across India will remain closed till October 15 2020, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The information in this letter, which is still being circulated on social media platforms, is false.
The Union Ministry of Tourism has clarified that they have not announced this information. The government news agency, Press Information Bureau (PIB), too, confirmed that the message is fake.
Forged logo and letterhead of the Ministry of Tourism were used to propagate the false information.
In an effort to continue its efforts to control the spread of the virus, the Union government will continue to implement social distancing norms in the country. And so, it may not have immediate plans to open public places that can draw a huge crowd, like restaurants and malls.
On April 24, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) relaxed some restrictions announced as part of the second lockdown. The new guidelines said that standalone and neighbourhood shops can remain open. However, shops within market complexes and malls, which are within the limits of a municipal corporation, are not allowed.
This announcement, too, caused some confusion, as many thought restaurants, salons and barber shops, too, qualify as standalone shops.
However, the MHA once again clarified that the relaxation does not include restaurants and barber shops, and that they will continue to remain shut.
The centre is yet to make an announcement on the further relaxations post the second lockdown, which will come to an end on May 3.
Besides, before forwarding any messages on WhatsApp or other platforms, there are ways in which people can identify if it is fake news, the easiest being, to look for errors in the message.
For example, the Tourism Departmentâ€™s website given in the letter is wrong. The correct website is www.tourism.gov.in/. It also has some grammatical errors.