New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Centre on Thursday ordered the closure of all Centrally-protected monuments including the Taj Mahal, sites, museums under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) with immediate effect till May 15 in wake of the rising coronavirus cases in the country.

An order to this effect was issued by the ASI and it was tweeted by Culture Minister Prahlad Patel this evening.

“In view of prevailing #COVID19 situation, all centrally protected monuments/sites & museums under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be closed with immediate effect till May 15 or until further orders”, Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (I/C) Prahlad Singh Patel said today.

These include 3,693 monuments and 50 museums. In live monuments like Puri Jagannath Temple and Somnath Temple, daily 'puja' will be conducted but no public gathering will be allowed, said Nitin Tripathi, the ministry's media advisor.

Last year, too, all monuments and sites maintained by the ASI were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 17. They reopened in July with strict restrictions like mandatory wearing of masks, cap on the number of visitors and social distancing. The curbs were relaxed later in the year.

India's daily COVID-19 cases surged to a record high of 2,00,739 on Thursday, taking the country's cumulative tally to 1,40,74,564, according to Union health ministry data. The death toll climbed to 1,73,123 with 1,038 new fatalities, the highest since October 3, the data stated.

Posted By: Sanyukta Baijal