Taj Mahal to reopen after 6 months | Daily News

Taj Mahal to reopen after 6 months

The Taj Mahal is set to reopen to visitors after a six-month closure, even as the pandemic has accelerated in recent weeks with India set to overtake the US to become the nation worst-hit by COVID-19.

India, home to 1.3 billion people and some of the world's most crowded cities, has recorded more than 5.4 million COVID-19 cases, with approximately 100,000 new infections and more than 1,000 deaths recorded daily in the past several weeks.

But after a strict lockdown in March that devastated the livelihoods of tens of millions of people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reluctant to copy some other nations and reimpose curbs on activity.

Instead, in recent months his government has eased restrictions, including on many train routes, domestic flights, markets, restaurants and now, visiting the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 17th-century white marble mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the city of Agra, about 200km from the capital, New Delhi, is India's most popular tourist site. It usually draws seven million visitors a year but has been closed since March.

Officials say when the iconic monument reopens, strict physical distancing rules will be imposed and daily visitor numbers will be capped at 5,000 - a quarter the normal rate. Tickets can only be bought online. (Al Jazeera)