The restrictions on travel and movement are set to be eased on August 1, but the Taj Mahal and other monuments in Agra are unlikely to be opened for visitors any time soon due to the number of cases in the city.
Sources told The Indian Express that the Taj Mahal won’t be reopened before August 15, or even a week or two beyond that, depending on the situation on the ground.
Earlier in July, Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patel, in an attempt to revive the tourism sector that has been hit hard due to the Covid-19 pandemic, had tweeted that all heritage sites and monuments would reopen starting July 6, following strict guidelines pertaining to Covid-19. The minister had, however, added that the monuments will be opened in “compliance of the state and district administration”.
On July 6, as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) opened more than 2,000 centrally protected monuments across the country, the Taj Mahal and other monuments in Agra remained shut, with the district administration expressing concern over the spread of the virus.
An order issued by Agra District Magistrate Prabhu Narain Singh said, “These monuments come under the buffer zone areas outside the containment zone in the district, and it won’t be appropriate to reopen them as of now.”
At the time, 55 new cases were reported in the city and there were about 70 active containment zones. An official privy to the consultations said that though the number of cases in the city has come down, the administration has been instructed by the state government to not take chances and exercise caution before lifting any restrictions.
ASI sources told The Indian Express that if need be, a new order will be issued by the administration, seeking to keep the monuments shut for another 2-4 weeks.