By Emmanuel Nduka
India is set to reopen its top tourist attraction site, the Taj Mahal, the government announced on Monday, two months after it was shut as a deadly surge in coronavirus infections swept through the country.
Cases and deaths in the vast nation of 1.3 billion people soared to record levels in April and May, with state and national authorities imposing lockdowns and other restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.
However, infections have declined in recent weeks, with major cities including the capital New Delhi and the financial capital Mumbai, lifting some curbs on movement and activities.
The Taj Mahal which is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, was shut down in March last year as India imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns at the start of the pandemic.
It is situated in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which was badly hit during the massive wave of infections and deaths.
The monument of love built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, reopened in September with restrictions on the number of visitors before shutting again in mid-April.
The restrictions meant that visitors would not be allowed to touch the shining marble mausoleum, an Archaeological Survey of India official said.
“All Covid-appropriate precautions are being taken. Visitors will have to step on a sponge-like platform which will act as a sanitiser for shoes,” the official told AFP.