Tourists keep an arm’s distance from Delhi monuments over corona fears

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Published on Mar 14, 2020 12:06 AM IST
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ByAdrija Roychowdhury

New Delhi: With panic over the novel coronavirus continuing to mount, monuments in the city have begun to wear a deserted look.

Footfall at the three Unesco world heritage sites in the city — Red Fort, Qutub Minar complex, and Humayun’s Tomb — have been affected significantly, data from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) suggests. Red Fort and Qutub Minar each saw 10,000 fewer visitors per week in March than in the first two weeks of February this year. At Humayun’s Tomb, the weekly footfall this month has been 6,000 lesser than in February.

The national capital recorded its first case of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on March 2, after which several measures have been put in place to control the spread of the virus, including schools and colleges being shut and advisories being issued, asking people to avoid crowded places and large gatherings.

While the Red Fort receives approximately 10,000 tourists a day, making it the most visited monument in the city, it is followed by Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb, each of which receive 6,000-7,000 tourists a day.

“While the coronavirus has indeed played a factor in affecting tourism in the monuments, other factors such as the onset of board examinations this time of the year also need to be taken into consideration to make a fair analysis of the situation,” an official from the ASI said.

“However, we are extremely concerned about the safety of tourists and our staff. We have provided masks and hand sanitisers to all our staff inside monuments and have also instructed them on precautions to be taken during their training sessions,” the official said.

Heritage activist Vikramjeet Singh Rooprai said that while this is usually the best time of year to visit monuments because of the weather, the coronavirus outbreak this year tourism has been affected. “I had a walk at Qutub Minar scheduled for this weekend, which got cancelled. I had walks planned the following week at Safdarjung tomb and Mehrauli, all of which stand cancelled now,” he said. “I advise all those coming with me on walks to take precautions like carrying a sanitiser and covering face while coughing or sneezing. After all, how long can people stay at home?” he added.

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