The Goa government has sought special permission from the Centre to vaccinate all workers in the state’s tourism sector, even if they are below 45 years of age, citing the sector’s criticality, Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Tuesday.

“Our attempt is that all those working in the tourism line — all those above 45 should get vaccinated — but we have written a letter seeking permission that those working in the tourism industry even if they are below 45 should be vaccinated,” Sawant said.

Tourism sector is a big source of revenue for the state and also provides employment to nearly 35% of the state’s population that is dependent on the sector, according to official estimates. A total of 25-lakh tourists have visited Goa since travel restrictions were eased after lifting of the lockdown, imposed to curb the coronavirus pandemic last year. Prior to the pandemic, the state witnessed close to eight million domestic tourists and more than nine hundred thousand foreign tourists.

“For now, we don’t have permission, but if we get the permission, then we are ready to vaccinate all those working in the tourism industry,” Sawant added.

Various sectors in the state, including manufacturing and services, have been seeking the expansion of the vaccination drive to cover those who come in contact with customers while working, said the CM.

“Being a touristic state and given that the economy has only now begun to revive, we are only advising people to avoid and restrict gatherings,” Sawant said, when asked whether tourists arriving in the state should be made to produce Covid negative certificates upon arrival, a demand that is being made by civil society in the state.

Sawant said the police have been told to crackdown on those not wearing masks in crowded places like markets, bus stands and other public places, even beaches.

“Enforcement will be done in a big way. It’s not that Covid is coming from the tourists only. Covid is spreading internally in the state as well. Our people should also not mix up with tourists,” Sawant said.

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