Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and a host of other centrally-protected monuments in Delhi on Monday were reopened for visitors after being shut for over four months due to the COVID-19 crisis, officials said.
However, wearing of masks will be mandatory, and no one will be allowed to enter if they are not wearing it, a senior official said.
“Delhi’s ASI-protected monuments have been reopened for the public as per the directions of the culture ministry. However, Red Fort, which on regular days is closed every Monday, will remain closed today,” he said.
All protocols and SOPs as outlined by the ministry will be followed, including social distancing and sanitisation measures at these heritage sites.
Incidentally, the monuments reopened for the public on a day Delhi COVID-19 tally breached the 1 lakh-mark as the city recorded 1379 fresh coronavirus cases, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 3,115.
There are 173 monuments in Delhi, protected under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites — Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar; Safdarjung Tomb, Purana Quila, Tughlakabad Fort, Hauz Khas and Firoz Shah Kotla.
“However, visitors can book tickets in either of the two slots — forenoon slot which starts in the morning and ends at 12 noon; and afternoon slot from 12 noon to 6 PM. In each slot, a maximum of 1500 visitors will be allowed,” the official said.
According the officials, on regular days, Red Fort gets an average daily footfall in the range of 8,000-12,000; Humayun’s Tomb gets 6,000-10,000 and Qutub Minar gets 8,000-10,000.
However, Humayun’s Tomb attracts more foreign visitors, they said.
As many as 3,691 Centrally-protected monuments and archaeological sites maintained by the ASI across the country were shut from March 17 in view of the coronavirus crisis.
The official said, the reopening of sites have been done in compliance with the city and district authorities.
The culture ministry recently had issued a set of protocols, saying only those monuments which are in non-containment zones will be reopened.
The number of containment zones in the city on Monday stood at 455.
As per the protocol, entry tickets being issued by e-mode and only e-payments acceptable at parking and cafeteria at the sites.
At the entrance of every monument or site, all visitors shall share their phone numbers with the person designated for the purpose by the ASI to help in contact tracing if and when required, the protocol said.
The ASI can restrict access to vulnerable and interior parts of any monument while visitors shall be asked to stick to the time limits inside the monument, as far as possible, the ministry had said.
No group photography and food or eatables shall be allowed inside the premises, it said.
“Cleaning and sanitisation of monuments and museums including toilet blocks, benches and frequently used surfaces shall be done at regular intervals,” it said.