The Indian Ministry of Culture has intimated that all Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected monuments including the Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar and Red Fort will be reopened for the public from July 6. The entry which will be limited to 5000 people per day will be managed through pre-booked e-tickets.
Over 3,691 centrally-protected monuments and archaeological sites maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) were closed down from March 17 when India chose to introduce national lock-down as it witnessed a significant rise in COVID-19 infected patients.
Visitors are mandated to follow all coronavirus-related protocols issued by the Union health ministry in including mandatory wearing of masks and social distancing. Monuments that are situated within the COVID containment zones will remain shut until the region is cleared to resume normal activities.
According to the standard operations procedure (SOP) by the ministry;
- The use of face cover/mask is mandatory.
- Entrance to have mandatory hand hygiene and thermal scanning provisions.
- Only asymptomatic persons are allowed.
- There shall be designated routes for entry & exit and movement within the monument
Visitors are expected to be segregated into multiple visiting hour slots where visitors at most monuments will be restricted at 1,000 per slot depending upon the traffic of visitors they receive. While the visitors at the Taj Mahal in Agra will be capped at 2,500 per slot, Delhi’s Qutub Minar and Red Fort will have a maximum cap of 1,500 visitors per slot.
The briefing said that “No group photography and food or eatables shall be allowed inside the premises” with “Cleaning and sanitization of monuments and museums including toilet blocks, benches and frequently used surfaces to be carried out at regular intervals.”
The news comes as a huge boost to the suffering tourism sector which took the biggest hit amid coronavirus induced lock-downs.