Taj Mahal, other tourist sites reopen in India despite Covid fears

BENGALURU The Taj Mahal reopened to the public yesterday as India, still reeling from a disastrous second wave of the pandemic, pushes to lift restrictions in a bid to revitalise its economy.

The 17th-century white marble mausoleum in Agra was closed in early April as India introduced strict curbs to contain a surge in Covid-19 infections that is still killing thousands every day.

Only 650 tourists will be allowed inside the premises of the Taj Mahal at any time.

The state of Uttar Pradesh, where Agra is located, reported 270 new infections overnight and 56 deaths. It is among India's hardest-hit states in terms of total Covid-19 cases.

Other federally protected monuments, including New Delhi's Red Fort and Qutub Minar, were also reopened to tourists yesterday, even as alarm bells ring over a resurgence of crowds in major cities that threatens to fuel another spike in infections.

Yesterday, India's Health Ministry reported 62,224 cases overnight, slightly higher than the previous day's figure.

The country added 2,542 deaths, taking the toll to 379,573.

Indian media reported traffic jams and a surge in tourists this week to the northern hill station of Shimla, famous for its views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks, further raising fears about the spread of the virus. - REUTERS