Agra’s Taj Mahal is all set to reopen to visitors from Monday onwards three months after it was closed due to coronavirus lockdown.
According to the reports, only 5,000 tourists may be allowed in a day, split into two groups, far less than the average of 80,000 visitors per day in normal times.
However, the visitors to the Taj Mahal will have to mandatorily wear masks at all times, and keep their distance from each other. The visitors will also not be allowed to its glistening marble surfaces when 17th-century Islamic monument reopens on Monday.
In a directive last week, the Union Ministry of Tourism had announced the reopening of ASI protected properties from July 6 and had released SOPs and safeguards in place. The decision to reopen the Taj Mahal will, however, be taken by the district administration later on Sunday evening.
The Ministry of Tourism had earlier taken to Twitter to state the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the reopening and functioning of the ASI maintained monuments amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Those monuments or museums which are in the non-containment zones may be opened for visitors and entry tickets shall be issued online and no physical tickets will be available on the monument premises. The payments for the parking fees will have to be digitally made and not by physical currency. The authorities have also banned group photography within the premises.
(2/3) He said that only those monuments/Museums which are in the non-containment zone will be open for visitors. All Centrally protected monuments & sites shall be bound by the protocols like sanitization, social distancing & other health protocols. pic.twitter.com/lMncCMAn4F— Ministry of Tourism (@tourismgoi) July 4, 2020
Agra administration in dilemma
Agra, one of the initial epicentre of the coronavirus in the state of Uttar Pradesh, has yet again seen an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, resulting in district administration contemplating on whether to allow reopening of the Taj Mahal from Monday or wait for some more days to allow the spread of coronavirus to reach safer limits.
Reportedly, the number of containment zones has gone up to 68 in Agra. The district has seen 15 fresh cases in the last 24 hours, taking the coronavirus tally in the city to 1,282. In neighbouring district of Mathura, there have been 16 fresh cases, while in Kasganj, 33 new cases have alarmed the district officials.