Taj Mahal reopens amid India’s Covid-19 cases soar
Published: 10:19 AM, 21 September 2020 Updated: 12:53 PM, 21 September 2020
The Taj Mahal, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre located in India, has been reopened for visitors on Monday in a symbolic business-as-usual gesture amid the increase of coronavirus infections in the country which is set to overtake the United States.
India, home to 1.3 billion people and some of the world’s most crowded cities, has recorded more than 5.4 million Covid-19 cases where around 100,000 new infections and over 1,000 deaths are reported daily, according to AFP.
Despite the strict lockdown since March and the livelihoods of tens of millions of people were devastated due to lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reluctant to copy some other nations and tighten the screw on activity again.
On the other hand, India’s government has eased more and more restrictions in recent months including on many train routes, domestic flights, markets, restaurants — and now, the Taj Mahal.
The world-famous white marble mausoleum in the city of Agra south of New Delhi is India’s most popular tourist site. It usually draws seven million visitors a year, but has been closed since March.
Officials say that when it reopens, strict social distancing rules will be imposed and daily visitor numbers will be capped at 5,000 — a quarter the normal rate. Tickets can only be bought online.
Vasant Swarnkar, a senior archaeologist in charge of Agra’s monuments, told reporters, “Circles are being marked, the mask would be a must and nobody would be able to enter without thermal screening.”