The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort will be open for tourists from September 21, said Agra District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh on Monday. The monuments have been closed to the public since a nationwide lockdown was imposed in March to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, superintending archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India (Agra Circle), told the media that tourists will have to follow all government norms, including physical distancing and sanitisation of hands, NDTV reported. “Masks are mandatory to enter the monuments and all tickets must be purchased online,” Swarnkar said. “Ticket counters will not be open.”

Entry to the Taj Mahal will be restricted to 5,000 tourists a day, including 2,500 before 2 pm. Agra Fort will see a footfall of 2,500 visitors a day. Around 70 lakh people visit the Taj Mahal each year, and 30 lakh the Agra Fort.

In its “Unlock 4” guidelines issued on August 30, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs instructed all schools, colleges, coaching centres, and other education institutions to remain closed until September 30. Social, academic, sports, entertainment functions and other congregations would be permitted with up to 100 people from September 21. The guidelines has also removed inter-state and intra-state travel restrictions. Movement of persons and goods will not be prohibited now.

India’s coronavirus count rose to 42,04,614 earlier in the day, with a record rise of 90,802 new cases. The toll increased by 1,016 to 71,642. India is now the world’s second-most affected from the pandemic after the United States. As many as 32,50,429 people have recovered so far, pushing India’s recovery rate to 77.31%.

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