Tag Archives: India

Social Distancing Travel | 19 Urban Staycations Within India’s City Limits

Former royal residences in Jaipur, five-star retreats in Delhi, and heritage bungalows in Kolkata—bookmark these addresses for a post-lockdown fix.

The royal SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur is a prime heritage property that exudes a bygone-era charm. Photo Courtesy: SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace

In the last two months, restaurants have shuttered and the vast majority of hotels remain closed, some permanently. But the surviving ones will undergo severe safety protocols to meet WHO guidelines. Thermal screening, background checks of guests, social distancing within premises, mandatory use of masks and gloves, installation of sanitisers, digital restaurant reservations and check-ins have been implemented across the board. While travelling a great distance seems a longtime away, here are luxury retreats and boutique stays that one can check out and check into without leaving their cities post the lockdown.

Mumbai

The Taj Mahal Palace

The heritage hotel is an architectural marvel, iconic to Mumbai. Its prime address in Colaba—with views of Gateway of Indians both a cause for envy, and a strategic location. Having opened in 1903, the 285 room-property has hosted eminent personalities from the globe over and was the site of Lord Mountbatten’s last speech before he left India. (Doubles from Rs9,500, including breakfast; www.tajhotels.com)

Soho House Mumbai

The 23rd Soho House property sits at the edge of Juhu beach. The 11-storey building serves expansive views of the Arabian Sea and is a hotspot for Bollywood bigwigs. The menu features Indian and contemporary elements and the rooftop bar shares space with a pool. Intricate details such as lampshades made with vintage saris, sisal carpets, and artworks and photographs by Indian artists lend the 38-room property a personal touch. (Doubles from Rsl0,500; www.sohohouse.com)

Delhi

The Manor

The two-decade-old The Manor is tucked inside a tree-lined gated colony. Post pandemic, the two-storey property surrounded by an acre of greenery is likely to introduce a “work from hotel” setup with amenities such as a speedy Wi-Fi to break the monotony of a quintessential corporate space. (Doubles from Rs12,000; www.themanordelhi.com)

The Leela Palace New Delhi

Opulent is an apt description for The Leela Palace. The five-star property is both modern and ostentatious with Indian and European furnishings. Think Persian rugs, silk sofas, grand chandeliers, and a rooftop pool that overlooks the lushness of Diplomatic Enclave. Expect amplification of safety levels with UV sanitisation across all public spaces in the premises. (Doubles from Rs15,000; www.theleela.com)

Urban staycations

Clockwise from top left: Poolside basking at The Postcard Moira, Goa; Art spaces at Bodhi Tree, Kolkata; Meditation on the banks of the Ganga at Himalayan Hideaways, Rishikesh; High tea at The Leela Palace New Delhi. Photo Courtesy: The Postcard Moira (pool), Photo Courtesy: The Leela Palace New Delhi (interior), Photo Courtesy: Bodhi Tree (paintings), Photo Courtesy: Himalayan Hideaways (man)

Kolkata

Calcutta Bungalow

The six-room heritage bungalow celebrates a bygone era of Kolkata from the early 20th century. Most items bought and refurbished are from different parts of the city. There are the louvred windows repurposed as installations in the courtyard and bedside tables, and then there’s the charm of old but functional typewriters in each room. On the menu are hearty Bengali fare such as radha ballabhi (lentil-stuffed Indian flatbread), luchi-alur dom (aloo-puri), and rosogolla. Hour-long heritage walks are complimentary for guests. (Doubles from Rs5,000, including breakfast; calcuttabungalow.com)

Bodhi Tree

Located in South Kolkata’s Swiss Park, the property—started by a mother-son duo in 2007—pegs itself as a boutique guest house and serviced apartment. It has an on-site garden, art gallery, patio library and a cafe. The property uses a Buddhist approach to disinfect spaces with bay leaves, camphor and sage. (Doubles from Rs2,000, including breakfast; special discounts available for female travellers and guests of long duration stays; www.bodhitreekolkata.com)

ITC Royal Bengal

Located adjacent to ITC Sonar, ITC Royal Bengal brings together nuances of culture, art and music. Besides 456 rooms and suites, on offer are: a jazz bar playing live gigs; six restaurants serving Indian and international delicacies; and a luxury spa. (www.itchotels.in)

Rishikesh

Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa

Spread out across 12 acres, Taj’s year-old venture in Rishikesh is made for social distancing. The retreat is set at the foothills of the Himalayas and overlooks the Ganga river. Garhwal influences are felt throughout the 79-room property, be it the kath-khuni architecture, slate flooring or traditional meals with locally sourced ingredients. (Doubles from Rs17,000, including breakfast; www.tajhotels.com)

Roseate Ganges

Roseate Ganges is located near the quiet neighbourhood of Shivpuri, the launch site for river rafting. The luxury property offers 16 villas, each opening to a private balcony looking over the Ganga valley. Besides the Garhwali and Kumaoni cuisines served at the hotel, on the menu at the wellness retreat are rejuvenating yoga and spa sessions. (www.roseatehotels.com)

Himalayan Hideaways

The forest-themed lodge overlooks river rapids. Its quiet, serene surroundings are huge draws, and the eight-room property is an ideal base for wellness and adventure seekers. The property is an affiliate of Opensky Resorts, a company that has partnered with 15+ stays ranging from riverside retreats to Raj-era cottages, and jungles lodges to heritage havelis across Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. (Doubles from Rs9,200; www.himalayanhideaways.com)

Jaipur

SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace

Wes Anderson meets imperialism at this former royal guesthouse of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur. Sea blue, fuchsia and indigo wallpapers bathe the cavernous interiors of the 1729-built property. Marble makes up the grand staircase, Art Deco furniture is peppered throughout and greenery is everywhere. The 13 rooms and suites have played host to dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth, Lord Mountbatten and Jackie Kennedy, who now have suites named in their honour. (Doubles from Rs55,000; thesujanlife.com)

Samode Haveli

Live like a royal at Samode Haveli, a traditional Indo-Saracenic mansion flanked by gardens and apartments arranged around a series of intimate courtyards. When the property was built 175 years ago, it was the residence of the Samode rulers. Today, their descendants still occupy the heritage space, and guests are invited to stay in former royal apartments and suites. (Doubles from Rs9,500; www.samode.com)

Urban staycations 1

28 Kothi in Jaipur is minimalistic in approach. Its garden spaces are ideal for lunching and lounging. Photo Courtesy: 28 Kothi

28 Kothi

The boutique guesthouse-owned by a jewellery designer and built by a French architect-is centrally located within Civil Lines. The artistic collaboration lends itself a homey touch. Its lush garden, sunlit terraces, quiet reading nooks, and farm fresh organic feats offer a world detached from the one outside. (Doubles from Rs7,500, including breakfast; www.28kothi.com)

Chennai

Avenue 11 Boutique Residences

The pocket-friendly stay is situated in Poes Garden, a posh residential neighbourhood in the heart of the city with close proximity to shopping centres, temples and embassy consulates. Until the lockdown lifts, the property is only catering to stranded guests. (Doubles from Rs2,950, including breakfast; call 044 4218 2000)

Hanu Reddy Residences Poes Garden

Also located in Poes Garden, the eponymous Hanu Reddy Residences is a tree-flanked, six-decade old family home converted into a boutique stay. The 30-room property is spread across three bungalows and shares the lane with Rajinikanth’s address. The management often gets requests to take a personal appointment with the celebrity. The rooms are sanitised and left unoccupied for 72 hours post-checkout and 24 hours prior to check-in. (Doubles from Rs4,500, including breakfast; www.hanureddyresidences.com)

Bengaluru

Casa Cottage

Nestled in a bylane in Richmond Town, Casa Cottage is an English-style bed-and-breakfast dating back to 1915. The 18 room-stay is run by an Indo-French couple and is one of the few pet-friendly options in the city. (Doubles from Rs3,300, including breakfast; www.casacottage.com)

The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore

The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore is an urban retreat whose swanky offerings include a Mercedes-Benz limousine service. The hotel has 277 rooms and its corridors and public spaces are amped up with 1,280 sculptures and paintings by mostly Indian, but also Vietnamese, Cuban and American artists. Grills and kebabs are big hits at Riwaz, the in-house Indian kitchen. (Doubles from Rs12,500, including breakfast and a five- course set meal for a couple; www.ritzcarlton.com)

Urban staycations 2

The English-style Casa Cottage in Bengaluru is a bed-and-breakfast dating back to 1915. Photo Courtesy: Casa Cottage

North Goa

Sol De Goa

Located close to Candolim and Sinquerim beach, Sol De Goa is a luxury heritage hotel. Designed by Tarun Tahiliani, the hotel offers 21 suites and rooms that overlook two pools and paddy fields. While the sunny state has plenty to offer (think whisky tours, kite surfing and fishing), sometimes, lounging by the poolside or digging into portions of Goan prawn curry and chicken cafreal is all the comfort one needs. (Doubles from Rs5,500, including breakfast; www.soldegoa.com)

The Postcard Moira

In Moira, a sleepy village with lush banana plantations and colourful houses, lies The Postcard, one of the chain’s three Goan properties. Its surroundings are a far cry from the state’s touristy front. The 214-year-old restored ancestral home has nine rooms with four-poster beds, brass fittings and statement lamps. The dining options are quintessentially Goan, and the semolina fried version of Moidechim Kelim (Moira banana) is a must-try. (Doubles from Rs18,500, including breakfast; www.postcardresorts.com)

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India’s COVID-19 case tally crosses 1.45 lakh-mark; death toll tops 4,100

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in India crossed the 1.45 lakh-mark on Tuesday, while the death toll has topped the 4,100-mark as well. At 9:30 AM on this day, the COVID-19 tally in the country has reached 1,45,380 cases, which includes 80,722 active cases; 60,491 cured, discharged, or migrated patients, and 4,167 deaths.

According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as many as 6,535 new COVID-19 cases and 146 deaths were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, marking a significant spike. However, the spike in India’s COVID-19 tally today is still less than yesterday’s, which was the highest boom in the number of cases in a while. Yesterday, the country witnessed a spike of about 6,977 cases, crowning significant and consecutive highest jumps in the country’s COVID-19 tally for the major part of the last week. The day before yesterday. i,e. Sunday, marked a spike of 6,767 cases, while Saturday had recorded a jump of 6,654 cases, all of them becoming the highest spikes for their own time.

Yesterday, the COVID-19 tally in India had crossed the 1.38 lakh-mark, while the death toll had already topped the 4,000-mark. However, the recovery rate this morning stands at 41.60%, the Health Ministry informed.

Maharashtra continues to be the epicenter of the coronavirus spread where the number of cases has witnessed an even large spike recently. According to the Health Ministry, Maharashtra has the highest number of cases with 52,667 positive cases of infection and 1,695 deaths.

Notably, Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, has become the hotbed of the coronavirus spread in the state where the number of cases is nearing the 32,000-mark and the death toll has crossed the 1,000-mark as well. At 9:30 AM on this day, the COVID-19 tally in Mumbai showed 31,972 cases and 1,026 deaths. The city reported as many as 1,430 cases on Monday alone.

One of the real challenges in Mumbai is controlling the disease contamination in Asia’s biggest slum — Dharavi, which is an extremely densely-populated region.

Maharashtra is followed by Tamil Nadu with 17,082 cases, which overtook Gujarat due to a recent massive spike in the number of cases. Gujarat is third on the list with 14,468 cases.

After Gujarat comes Delhi, where the COVID-19 figure stands at 14,053 with 6,771 patients recovered and 276 fatalities. Rajasthan has reported 7,376 cases of which 4,056 have recovered and 167 patients are dead.

Madhya Pradesh has reported 6,859 positive cases so far of which 3,571 patients have recovered and 300 patients have lost their lives due to the virus. In Uttar Pradesh, as many as 6,497 people have confirmed COVID-19, of which 3,660 recovered and 169 people succumbed to it.

In Kerala, which reported the country’s first COVID-19 case, 897 people have been detected positive for coronavirus so far.

Over the major part of the last week, the country marked significant and consecutive highest jumps in the COVID-19 tally.

Interestingly, even though the virus tally continues to spike, new guidelines issued by the central government pertaining to Lockdown 4.0 remain enforced. Several restrictions have been lifted, which includes permitting transport services, reopening of shops, and resuming online shopping. According to the central government’s most recent order, all activities, except the ones “specifically prohibited”, will be allowed in green, orange, red, and buffer zones, which continue to be classified by the States/UTs and district authorities.

Domestic flight services resumed in India on Monday, while international flights are to start soon as well, the central government has informed as part of its gradual reboot of air travel services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

It is now increasingly becoming likely that India, although well into the fourth phase of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-necessitated nationwide lockdown, is quickly becoming one of the biggest COVID-19 hotspots in the world.

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In pics: Wildlife in India :: Lonely Planet India


Image courtesy: ©Yvdalmia/Shutterstock.com

India is home to a rich and diverse wildlife. From the tigers, rhinoceros, leopards to various species of birds, wildlife enthusiasts will always have something to explore.

Here is a series of images to keep you in touch with nature.

A herd of deer at Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand

A herd of deer at Jim Corbett National Park in UttarakhandImage courtesy: ©Dchauy/Shutterstock.com

The national animal- Tiger- relaxing in its natural habitat at Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan

The national animal- Tiger- relaxing in its natural habitat at Ranthambore National Park in RajasthanImage courtesy: ©Cezary Wojtkowski/Shutterstock.com

Watch the Indian leopard on a tree-top at Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This is an endangered species.

Watch the Indian leopard on a tree-top at Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This is an endangered species.Image courtesy: ©Santanu Banik/Shutterstock.com

Bandipur National Park in Karnataka is rich in flora and fauna

Bandipur National Park in Karnataka is rich in flora and faunaImage courtesy: ©Dreame Walker/Shutterstock.com

Mudumalai National Park is the best place to spot wildlife in Tamil Nadu.

Mudumalai National Park is the best place to spot wildlife in Tamil Nadu.Image courtesy: ©Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock.com

Kaziranga National Park in Assam is home to India’s largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros.

Kaziranga National Park in Assam is home to India’s largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros.Image courtesy: ©PACO COMO/Shutterstock.com

The Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh is a bird lover's delight.

The Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh is a bird lover’s delight.Image courtesy: ©manisa/Shutterstock.com

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India’s death toll tops 4,000-mark; case tally crosses 1.38 lakh; highest spike yet

The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in India crossed the 1.38 lakh-mark on Monday, while the death toll has topped the 4,000-mark as well. At 9:30 AM on this day, the COVID-19 tally in the country has reached 1,38,845 cases, which includes 77,103 active cases; 57,720 cured, discharged, or migrated patients, and 4,021 deaths.

According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as many as 6,977 new COVID-19 cases and 154 deaths were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, marking a significant spike. In fact, this is the highest spike in India’s COVID-19 tally so far. The last highest jump was of a spike of about 6,767 cases yesterday and of 6,654 cases the day before that and even a jump of 6,088 cases the previous day, thereby marking significant and consecutive highest jumps in the country’s COVID-19 tally for the major part of the last week.

Yesterday, the COVID-19 tally in India had crossed the 1.3 lakh-mark, while the death toll had already topped the 3,800-mark as well. However, the recovery rate this morning stands at 41.57%, the Health Ministry informed.

Maharashtra continues to be the epicenter of the coronavirus spread where the number of cases has witnessed an even large spike recently. According to the Health Ministry, Maharashtra has the highest number of cases with 50,231 positive cases of infection and 1,635 deaths.

Notably, Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, has become the hotbed of the coronavirus spread in the state where the number of cases has crossed the 30,000-mark and the death toll is closing in on the 1,000-mark as well. At 9:30 AM on this day, the COVID-19 tally in Mumbai showed 30,542 cases and 988 deaths. The city reported as many as 1,725 cases on Sunday alone.

One of the real challenges in Mumbai is controlling the disease contamination in Asia’s biggest slum — Dharavi, which is an extremely densely-populated region.

Maharashtra is followed by Tamil Nadu with 16,277 cases, which overtook Gujarat due to a recent massive spike in the number of cases. Gujarat is third on the list with 14,063 cases.

After Gujarat comes Delhi, where the COVID-19 figure stands at 13,418 with 6,540 patients recovered and 261 fatalities. Rajasthan has reported 7,100 cases of which 3,856 have recovered and 163 patients are dead.

Madhya Pradesh has reported 6,665 positive cases so far of which 3,408 patients have recovered and 290 patients have lost their lives due to the virus. In Uttar Pradesh, as many as 6,268 people have confirmed COVID-19, of which 3,538 recovered and 161 people succumbed to it.

In Kerala, which reported the country’s first COVID-19 case, 848 people have been detected positive for coronavirus so far.

Over the major part of the last week, the country marked significant and consecutive highest jumps in the COVID-19 tally.

Interestingly, even though the virus tally continues to spike, new guidelines issued by the central government pertaining to Lockdown 4.0 remain enforced. Several restrictions have been lifted, which includes permitting transport services, reopening of shops, and resuming online shopping. According to the central government’s most recent order, all activities, except the ones “specifically prohibited”, will be allowed in green, orange, red, and buffer zones, which continue to be classified by the States/UTs and district authorities.

All domestic flights are also set to resume in India from today, while international flights are to start soon as well, the central government has informed as part of its gradual reboot of air travel services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

It is now increasingly becoming likely that India, although well into the fourth phase of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-necessitated nationwide lockdown, is quickly becoming one of the biggest COVID-19 hotspots in the world.

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Domestic flight services to resume from May 25; here’s what you’ll need for air travel

All domestic flights are set to resume in India from May 25, i.e. Monday, the central government has informed as part of its graudal reboot of air travel services in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak.

According to sources, the very first domestic flight will be at 4:30 AM on Monday. It will take off from the Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. In the first phase, 28 domestic flights will take off from Delhi towards various destinations across India.

Passengers have been advised to bring their boarding passes along with them. It has also been made mandatory for the air travellers to download the Aarogya Setu mobile app in their cellphones, which will help authorities determine if the concerned passengers are coming from a COVID-19 hotspot or not. If they do not have the app on their phones, passengers will have to sign an undertaking declaring that they are free from COVID-19 infection. Air travel staff will also assist passengers in downloading the app on the spot, if it’s not present on their phones

A thermal gun will also be used to screen the passengers before entry into the flight.

Confirming the development,  Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, ”There’s no contradiction between domestic flights beginning from May 25 and lockdown in India being imposed till May 31.”

Puri further said that the government will try to start a good percentage of international passenger flights before August. The Minister also said that the Centre is planning to bring back Indian citizens from Sri Lanka either by ship or flights. Discussions are at an advanced stage, the Aviation Minister said.

He also recommended ”Aarogya Setu app for everyone” saying, ”it’s an excellent contact-tracing device.”

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Domestic flights to resume operations, here’s what to keep in mind :: Lonely Planet India

Image courtesy: ©Fahroni/Shutterstock.com

As the world begins to accept its “new normal” as relaxations from the Covid-19 lockdown begin, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has taken the decision to resume flights from 25th May 2020. This news has come as a respite to many. Here are some “flying” guidelines that have been released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Follow the norms

Social distancing and minimum touch

Digital payments and use of authorized taxis

Baggage limitations – only one check-in bag and one cabin bag allowed

Do’s:

Ensure web check-in and obtain a boarding pass

Ensure wearing a mask before entering the terminal

Take all precautions during transit to airport, to prevent infection

Dont’s:

Passenger should not travel if he or she is staying in a containment zone

A passenger who has been tested positive for Covid-19 should not travel

For detailed information into the guidelines issued by the government, check here.

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Salons Re-Open In India After Lockdown But Everything Has Changed

While my confidence no longer adheres to a root touch-up, I’m craving to get some downtime at a salon and a nail studio. And it’s not just me. It’s been 60 days since India has been on lockdown as CO-VID19 took more than 3435 lives. Unlike Europe, the US and UK, salon treatments are NOT that expensive in India. Walk-ins, friendly banter and a willingness to accommodate many treatments in one session was a part of the salon culture. Now? Not so much. While salons are in the process of resuming services, things are not quite going to be the same. 

In this blog on Be For Beauty, I talk about the new normal of the beauty business with insights from some of the busiest players in personal grooming. Here’s what the new normal looks like in these uncertain times.

Let’s be clear; not all beauty salons and nail studios are opening.

Gurgaon was one of the first few to reopen the shutters of salons in green and orange areas last week. With no income, many newspapers have reported lakhs of losses by salons, while businesses still continued to pay for infrastructure including rent, supplies and staff.

So what would be a big chain’s plan? Do you reopen all branches, cut your losses or start slow? For starters, not all may open soon. When I asked Mr. Rajiv Nair, Group CEO, Kaya Limited aka Kaya Skin Clinics about their plans, he said “We are planning a calibrated launch starting with 5 clinics in Bangalore around the end of May 2020. We have put in place some stringent policies on social distancing & would like to pilot them for a week in Bangalore before we scale up clinics in other cities.”

Courtesy: Jean-Claude Biguine on Instagram

Jean Claude Biguine just announced the reopening of their salon in Bangalore via Instagram while YTG salons, a start-up salon chain based in Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore plans to reopen all outlets on May 20.

Walk-Ins Are A Thing Of The Past: Appointments are the first step to safety.

In happier times, I used to walk 200 meters from my house, into a salon with Day 3 hair, for an impromptu blowout. There were so many things I liked about that scenario. Not only did I have the option of multiple salons, but also the opportunity to get multiple treatments if I wanted… that’s all changed. 

Kaya Skin Clinics (95 clinics pan India), Schwarzkopf Professional (6000 salons pan India), Blossom Kochhar Aroma Magic (7 salons in North India), You Look Good or YLG Salons (56 salons in South India), have all confirmed that all customers will be called by appointments only.

“Typically, we will be servicing 1 client in an area,” explains Mrs. Vaijayanti Bhalchandra, co-founder and CTO of YLG Salons & Institut. “For example, for hair spas and manicure/pedicure rooms, only one customer will be serviced at a time. Similarly, alternate seats will be occupied at hair stations,” she says.

Social Distancing Means Reduced Capacity. Which Means Longer Wait Time For Customers and A Slower Road To Recovery

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash | Here’s What Your Next Salon Visit May Look Like | CO-VID19

Given the need for social distancing, it isn’t possible for most salons to operate at 100% capacity as of now. 

“There will be no customer in waiting since there’ll be limited pre-booked customers at one time to ensure that all necessary precautions are implemented,” says Ms Sheetu Gupta, Owner, Ozone The Luxury Salon, a chain based in New Delhi.

“We have the clinics open for 6 hours for a few weeks and limit up to 2 clients seated at the reception at any point in time. We will stagger our appointments accordingly,” Rajiv Nair, Group CEO, Kaya Limited (Kaya Skin Clinics). 

Which not only means that you may have to wait longer to get an appointment, but also a slower recovery for the beauty business.

Slower, but safer.

Speaking of safety, what are the protocols put in place? 

The New Normal: Disinfecting, PPEs, Temperature Checks and More

Melissa Hughe, Technical Head, Schwarzkopf Professional shares, “Now that the lockdown is relaxed in some zones in India, it is important to let customers know we are ready for them. All our salon partners have adopted deep cleaning measures and very high hygiene standards to make sure safety for you and them remains intact. In addition, all our salon partners (6000 of them), will undergo rigorous and regular checkups on their cleanliness and sanitation as per the government guidelines.” 

Apart from this, UV sanitisation of rooms after each service as well as disinfection of new services (Yay, Lizol!) is the pandemic’s definition of sexy. 

While interviewing experts for the story, I was expecting disinfection of all salons along with masks and PPE, face shields and goggles for their staff, but there will be equal checks for customers too. In addition to temperature checks, travel history, some salons are also providing shoe covers, and shields if needed.

Training Initiatives & Programmes

This time also calls for support from bigger brands. One such brand is L’Oréal Professionnel who have 45,000 salons and 170,000 hairdressers in their network pan-India. Their brands (including L’Oréal Professionnel) Matrix, Kérastase and Cheryl’s Cosmeceuticals are widely used and sold across the country.

With their initiative called “Back To Business”, L’Oréal aims to help train with sanitary measures, supplies, hand sanitizers alongside the new operating guidelines. D. P. Sharma, Director, L’Oréal Professionnel Products Division, said, “we are committed, now more than ever, to our role as partner and advocate of the hairdressing industry and will continue to work tirelessly to lessen the impact of this crisis on them.”

Domestic brand Godrej Professional launched a Salon Suraksha Program with the objective of helping the industry get back on its feet. Heena Dalvi, National Technical Head – Godrej Professional said “We’ve managed to bring experts on salon operations, sanitisation and hygiene to hand-hold salons as they resume their services. The brand has harnessed the capabilities of the digital medium to offer real-time online training certification to salon personnel on safety guidelines to be followed.” 

Digital Payments And E-Prescriptions 

Most beauty businesses are already encouraging digital payments via Google Pay, PayTM etc. to avoid contact. Clinics like Kaya Skin as well as dermatologists, are expected to make most of e-prescriptions and video follow-ups, to minimise client visitations unless necessary.

What About Staying In And Calling Them Over? At-Home Beauty Services

I spoke to Mayank Arya Co-founder – Yes Madam, an at-home beauty service provider whose service model, is similar to UrbanClap. “As per the guidelines of MHA, we have already started serving our customers in orange and green zones of Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. In the coming few days, we will be starting services in Delhi, Noida and Bangalore too,” he disclosed. While he said it’s safer for them to go home to their clients, they are not booking more than 2-3 slots per staff as of now. “For the safety of our clients, we have set 13 safety principles, including training for safe practise, disposable kits, PPE kits for staff and Aarogya Setu app – these are mandatory for service providers.” 

Kudos for effort, I say. However, it’s equally essential for you to disinfect surfaces before and after when someone’s coming home for a grooming session.

Longer treatments like facials have not been started at all salons yet. Test procedure protocols are in place, says Kaya Skin Clinic. Photo by Raphael Lovaski on Unsplash

Can I go get my facial and nail extensions? 

If you’ve ever gotten nail extensions done, you know it takes over an hour. I spoke to Misha Chakraborty, founder of Mishka Nail Studio, Kolkata which falls under the red zone but has gotten permission to reopen from the local authorities. “Apart from deep cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces, we have invested in N-95 masks for our employees. Apart from disposable tools, all tools like nail drills, UV lights will be sterilised before and after use,” says Mishka. 

 Longer treatments are still off the radar for some players. According to a story in Hindustan Times, most salons are sticking to smaller treatments like cut, colour, and waxing etc. 

“We will not start facials and laser hair removal for the face area, to begin with. At Kaya, we will first build safe protocols, and once these are tested, we will resume longer services,” says Nair.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe.

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MHA permits some categories of OCI cardholders to return to India

Sources said that nearly after two months of lockdown, the government is likely to arrange hundreds of flights in the next few days to bring back Indians, including several categories of OCI cardholders.

 

Travel restrictions imposed on select categories of OCI cardholders will not apply anymore. (Photo: Reuters/Representational image)

The Union Home Ministry’s foreigners’ division has been directed to permit certain categories of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders — stranded abroad — to return home. The decision has been taken to allay fears of overseas’ citizens of India (OCI) cardholders following the temporary suspension of their ability to visit India.

Minor children born to Indian nationals abroad have been allowed to return. OCI cardholders who seek to return to India on account of family emergencies like death will also be allowed to return.

Couples will be allowed to return to India, in cases where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian nation. But they need to have a permanent residence in India.

University students from India, who are OCI cardholders and have their parents living in India can also return to India.

Therefore, the travel restrictions imposed on these categories of OCI cardholders will not apply anymore.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava already revealed several details of phase 2 of Vande Bharat mission, which is expected to continue till June 13.

“We are looking to bring back our nationals from 47 countries on 162 flights. In this phase, we are including places like Istanbul, Ho Chi Minh city, Lagos and also increasing flights to the USA and Europe,” he said.

“We are also looking at developing Frankfurt as a hub.”

Sources said that nearly after two months of lockdown, the government is likely to arrange hundreds of flights in the next few days to bring back Indians, including several categories of OCI cardholders.

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India Accuses Beijing Of Hindering its Normal Patrolling along LAC


India on Thursday rejected China’s allegations that Indian troops crossed over to the Chinese side of the frontier in Ladakh and Sikkim, asserting that New Delhi has been taking responsible approach towards border management. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said it was the Chinese side that recently undertook activities hindering India’s normal patrols in the areas.

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China engaged in coercive military activities with neighbours, including India: White House report

China is engaged in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities with neighbouring countries including India, the White House said on Thursday, a day after a top American diplomat backed India’s move to strongly resist Chinese aggression into its territory.

“Beijing contradicts its rhetoric and flouts its commitments to its neighbours by engaging in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities in the Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Indian border areas,” the White House said in a report.

The report, “United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China”, submitted to the Congress was required by the National Defense Authorization Act 2019, which mandated a whole-of-government strategy with respect to China.

“As China has grown in strength, so has the willingness and capacity of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to employ intimidation and coercion in its attempts to eliminate perceived threats to its interests and advance its strategic objectives globally,” the report stated.

“Beijing’s actions belie Chinese leaders’ proclamations that they oppose the threat or use of force, do not intervene in other countries’ internal affairs, or are committed to resolving disputes through peaceful dialogue,” it said.

A day earlier a top Trump Administration diplomat backed India’s move to strongly push back Chinese aggression into its territory by saying that the latter’s pattern of constant attempt to shift the status quo has to be resisted.

“If you look to the South China Sea, there’s a method here to Chinese operation. It is that constant aggression, the constant attempt to shift the norms, to shift what is the status quo. That has to be resisted, whether it’s in the South China sea where we’ve done a group sail with India, or whether it’s in India’s own backyard, both, on land as well as in the Indian ocean,” Alice Wells, the outgoing Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, told a Washington DC-based think tank.

“For anyone is under any illusions about that Chinese aggression was only rhetorical and I think they need to speak to India where India, on a weekly, monthly, but certainly a very regular basis, has to experience the pinpricks of a Chinese military,” Wells said.

“It is a reminder of what’s at stake in building a world order that and sustaining a world order that respects, sovereignty, territorial integrity, as well as respects the rules of international trade, that have allowed again so many hundreds of millions to be lifted out of poverty,” she said.

China attempts to dominate the global information and communications technology industry through unfair practices is reflected in discriminatory regulations like the National Cyber Security Law, which requires companies to comply with Chinese data localization measures that enable CCP access to foreign data, it said.

Prevailing in strategic competition with China requires cooperative engagement with multiple stakeholders, and the administration is committed to building partnerships to United States Strategic Approach to protect their shared interests and values.

The United States, the White House said, is also building cooperative partnerships and developing positive alternatives with foreign allies, partners, and international organizations to support the shared principles of a free and open order.

According to the White House, the United States is working in concert with mutually aligned visions and approaches such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, Japan’s free and open Indo-Pacific vision, India’s Security and Growth for All in the Region policy, Australia’s Indo-Pacific concept, the Republic of Korea’s New Southern Policy, and Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy.

“Guided by a return to principled realism, the United States is responding to the CCP’s direct challenge by acknowledging that we are in a strategic competition and protecting our interests appropriately,” the White House said.

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry said that the Administration’s report is a good first start to articulating a whole of government approach to China.

“Only by focusing on all elements of national power can we effectively compete with China and deter China’s malign activity in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. The strategy also reinforces the need to invest in the military elements of that strategy, as well as increased engagement with our allies and partners,” he said.

Congressman Mike Rogers, House Homeland Security Committee ranking member said that the Chinese Communist Party represents an existential threat to democratic values across the globe.

“Their totalitarian rule crushes human rights, undermines democratic institutions, and threatens our way of life,” he said. China’s policy of targeting critical infrastructure, exploiting America’s world-class educational institutions, and state-sponsored intellectual property theft will continue to present a challenge that the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and other federal agencies will combat for the foreseeable future,” Rogers added.

In another statement, Congressman Michael McCaul, Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded the White House for recognizing the need to return to ‘principled realism’ with respect to CCP.

“The CCP has always framed its relationship with the United States as a great power competition, and we can no longer deny this reality. With this strategic approach, the Trump Administration is setting out to reverse decades of complacency towards the CCP and to better secure American leadership on the world stage,” Rogers said.

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