Nepal on Friday suspended permits to climb Everest over the coronavirus pandemic, closing off the world’s biggest mountain a day after China halted access from its side.
Nepal has halted climbing on all mountains in the country and stopped issuing tourist visas, Yogesh Bhattarai, Minister for Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation told AFP.
The Himalayan country earns millions of dollars a year from Everest permits.
“The government has decided to suspend all spring expeditions and scrap permits for the time being. The decision can be reviewed after analysing the global scenario over the coming month,” Bhattarai said.
Last year’s spring window saw a record 885 people summit Everest, 644 of them from Nepal and 241 from the northern flank in Tibet.
The traffic-clogged season saw 11 deaths on the mountain, with at least four blamed on overcrowding.
Everest attracts hundreds of mountaineers from all over the world each spring, when a window of good weather opens up between late April and the end of May, prompting a rush for the summit.
Nepal has so far confirmed only one case of coronavirus.