Taj Mahal to reopen on Wednesday, as India eases Covid-19 restrictions

The famed tourist site was closed for a second time on April 4 as India battled a coronavirus second wave

India's Taj Mahal will reopen to visitors on Wednesday, more than two months after it was closed as part of strict coronavirus control measures.

This was the second time the Unesco World Heritage Site had shut during the pandemic.

The Archaeological Survey of India, which takes care of the site in the northern city of Agra, said visitors would not be allowed to touch any part of the building and social distancing and other measures would be imposed.

"Visitors will have to step on a sponge-like platform which will act as a sanitiser for shoes," an official said.

The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's monument of love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal was closed when the pandemic first hit India last year, but reopened in September after a drop in cases of the deadly virus.

The marble mausoleum –   one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World" – took more than 20 years to build, eventually opening in 1653.

It is located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which was hit hard by India's second wave.

But lockdown measures and boosting the vaccination programme have led to a significant drop in new infections.

On Sunday, the region recorded 468 new cases – compared with the peak in daily infections of more than 36,000 in April.

The Taj Mahal's closure for more than 200 days in the space of a year has ruined businesses reliant on the tourist trade.