Coronavirus Outbreak: ASI shuts monuments; Taj Mahal, Hampi, Ajanta closed

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Coronavirus Update: Monuments are under Coronavirus radar too! Two months after an Indian was tested positive for the novel Coronavirus, the central government is taking big steps in order to curb the impact of widespread infection in India. In a recent move, all the monuments under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will remain closed until March 31, the Indian Express reported. The report citing Prahlad Patel, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture said that as the COVID-19 spreads, all central museums and ASI-protected monuments will be shut for this month and the government will soon issue a notification regarding the same.

There are around 3,000 monuments under ASI that includes Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar and Red Fort as well in addition to some UNESCO world heritage sites like Ajanta Caves and Hampi among others. Apart from this, there are around 200 museums that will remain closed too. The report said that these places witness high footfalls and closure for a few days is likely to result in exchequer loss. However, the government believes that the move is necessary considering the present situation within the country. Also, the government has decided to refund tickets that were pre sold. This is applicable for ASI-protected monuments, the report said.

It further states that it is quite rare for a monument like the Taj Mahal to close for a few days. It was last shut in 1971, when a war between India and Pakistan broke out. However, ASI has closed a few monuments in Kerala, Odisha and Karnataka before.

Meanwhile in India, the novel Coronavirus has affected at least 114 people with a death toll of 2. The central government as well as the state government has announced that schools and colleges will resume post March 31. Moreover, gyms, cinema halls, swimming pools and clubs have also been directed to shut for the month in majority states.