All centrally protected monuments, natural heritage sites and museums will reopen on June 16, the Archaeological Survey of India stated in an order issued on Monday.
As many as 3,693 centrally protected monuments and 50 museums across India have been shut for two months due to the Covid pandemic. Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Qutub Minar are included in this list among other famous tourist spots. Due to second wave of the virus, these sites were closed on April 15.
Once the monuments reopen, tickets can be booked online. No offline booking facilities will be available, an ASI official said.
According to the ASI order, the opening of the monuments will be in strict compliance with the executive orders, if any, issued by the state, district or the disaster management authority.
"Today @MinOfCultureGoI has given @ASIGoI approval to duly open all the monuments of India from 16 June 2021. Tourists can visit the monuments following the Corona rules. Good luck to all," tweeted Union Culture and Tourism minister Prahlad Patel.
Appropriate guidelines and SOPs issued by Union and states governments, ministries and departments will be scrupulously followed while regulating the flow of visitors, the order said.
Last year, all monuments and sites maintained by the ASI were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic on March 17. They reopened in July with strict restrictions like mandatory wearing of masks, a cap on the number of visitors and social distancing. The curbs were relaxed later in the year. However, due to the surge in cases again this year, these monuments were closed for the public.
Superintending Archeologist, Agra Circle ASI, Dr Vasant Kumar Swarnkar said Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and other centrally-protected monuments, sites and museums will be reopened from Wednesday.
"We will maintain social distancing among the visitors and sanitisation of the monuments premises will be done thrice in a day. The body temperature will be checked through a thermal thermometer. Besides, the shoes of the tourists would be properly sanitised," he told PTI.
"Tourists would not be allowed to touch any object inside the Taj Mahal and other monuments and sites. They have to follow social distancing norms while sitting as well," he added.
(With PTI inputs)
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