India Postpones Reopening of Iconic Taj Mahal As Coronavirus Continues to Spread
The postponement was decided the night before the Taj Mahal was slated to reopen.
A plan to reopen the famed Taj Mahal to visitors was scrapped this week after the city of Agra saw a spike in COVID-19 infections, according to reports.
The announcement came late Sunday night, weeks after India started easing restrictions, including reopening state borders along with places of worship and businesses like restaurants and malls.
“In the interest of the public, it has been decided that opening monuments in Agra will not be advisable as of now,” district authorities said in a notice, according to Reuters.
Monuments, including the Taj Mahal, have been closed since March, the wire service noted, and it wasn’t clear when it would open.
Reuters reported Agra, which sits in the northern part of the country, is the worst-affected city in Uttar Pradesh, which also happens to be India’s most populated state. On Sunday, the wire service noted India reported a single-day record of 24,850 new cases and more than 600 deaths.
“We don’t expect visitors here because clusters around the Taj, including shops and hotels are closed,” a local district administration official in Agra told Reuters.
India has recorded more than 697,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the third-most in the world behind only the U.S. and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the virus. The country has also seen more than 19,600 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths.
Some monuments in the capital city of New Delhi were allowed to reopen Monday, The Times of India reported, featuring online ticket sales, daily caps on the number of people allowed in, and mandatory masks.
“New rules are needed in a world shaken by Covid. We will have to get used to them,” a Union ministry of culture official told the paper.
In the meantime, people all over the world can tour the Taj Mahal from home with Google’s street-view feature, putting themselves right in the middle of the action without having to travel for hours on a plane to get there.