Taj Mahal is all set to reopen its doors to visitors from Monday onward but with a few conditions. Visitors to the Taj Mahal have to wear masks and maintain proper social distancing norms. They will also not be allowed to touch its glistening marble surface.
Only 5,000 tourists will be allowed every day, and they would be split into two groups. This would be much less than pre-COVID numbers when around 80,000 tourists used to visit the Taj Mahal on a regular basis.
"All centrally protected monuments & sites shall be bound by protocols like sanitisation, social distancing & other health protocols," the federal tourism ministry said in a tweet.
Agra was one of the first cities in the country to have a cluster of coronavirus cases. It still remains one of the worst affected cities in Uttar Pradesh. According to the local administration, the Taj Mahal is surrounded by containment zones.
"We don't expect visitors here because clusters around the Taj, including shops and hotels are closed," officials told Livemint.
Authorities across India are also reopening the doors of other monuments. In Delhi, the Red Fort is expected to open soon even as number of cases in the national capital continues to rise at a brisk pace.
In the last 24 hours, India reported 24,850 fresh cases which is the new highest single-day record. Six hundred deaths were also recorded. The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country has reached 673,165 and is soon expected to cross Russia. India would then have the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, after the US and Brazil.
Even as cases are increasing the government continues to implement 'Unlock 2.0' with a majority of the lockdown measures already lifted -- visiting monuments being one of them. Unlike international flights which are still grounded, domestic flights have been operating for a few weeks and the government now expects people to flock to the popular destinations, Agra being one of them.