Taj Mahal to reopen even as virus rages in India
Workers clean around a replica of the Taj Mahal within the premises of an amusement park during a new lockdown imposed by the state government against the surge in COVID-19 coronavirus cases, in Kolkata on July 29, 2020. (Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP)
(AFP) - India's top tourist attraction the Taj Mahal is set to reopen more than six months after it was shut, officials said Tuesday, even as the vast nation battles soaring coronavirus infections.
India, home to 1.3 million people, on Monday overtook Brazil to become the world's second most-infected nation with more than 4.2 million cases, behind only the United States.
"The Taj Mahal will reopen on September 21. All Covid-19 protocols, like physical distancing, masks will be followed," northern Uttar Pradesh state's Tourism Department deputy director Amit Srivastava told AFP.
Visitors will be limited to 5,000 a day, down from the usual daily average of 20,000, he added.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the shining marble mausoleum south of the capital New Delhi has been closed since mid-March as part of India's strict virus lockdown.
Uttar Pradesh, home to Agra city where the Taj is located, is one of the worst-hit states in India with more than 270,000 virus cases recorded so far.
India has pushed ahead with reopening to boost its virus-battered economy even as infections have steadily increased.
Since August, India has been reporting the highest single-day rises in the world.
© Agence France-Presse