Myanmar Closes Bagan’s Temples Ahead of Weekend Holiday Amid COVID-19 Fears

By Zarni Mann 29 July 2020

Mandalay – Mandalay Region has ordered that the most popular temples and pagodas at the Bagan archaeological zone must close as a COVID-19 preventive measure ahead of the weekend holiday.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports has warned of a coronavirus outbreak as some members of the public relax preventative measures.

Myanmar has reported 350 cases, six deaths and 293 recoveries as of July 28. Most of the new cases reported since early July have been imported from overseas.

The administration office in Nyaung-U Township told The Irrawaddy that the order is to avoid crowding with the pagodas and temples being closed until further notice.

“We will have four days’ holiday and many visitors were expecting to visit Bagan. The order is to control crowds as we still need to follow COVID-19 preventive measures,” said U Kyaw Kyaw Ohn from Nyaung-U’s administration office.

Pagodas and temples in Bagan were closed in March. However, as domestic tourists are now allowed to travel, the region received hundreds of thousands of visitors in the holiday earlier this month.

“We did not officially allow the pagodas to open, however, the trustees of some pagodas and temples allowed a number of pilgrims while some vendors reopened,” the official added.

The authorities ordered the closure of all sights, especially the most famous attractions such as the Ananda Temple and Dhammayangyi, Alo-daw Pyi, Htolominlo, Bu Phaya, Lawkananda and Sulamani pagodas.

Tourists wanted to visit the sights will need to show a health certificate from a regional health care clinic.

Outside the main tourist attractions in Bagan, the region is still open to visitors.

Businesses say they have been left in limbo.

“About half of our customers canceled hotel bookings. People visit Bagan not only for its scenic beauty but also for pilgrimages. As the famous temples have closed, visitors will not come,” said a hotel owner in New Bagan.

Tourism has been particularly heavily hit by COVID-19. Bagan had been looking forward to this month’s holidays, which normally attract large numbers of domestic visitors.

“We have bought meat and vegetables as we hoped to receive many pilgrims. What shall we do now the pagodas are closed?” said Ma Htay Htay Tint, who owns a restaurant near Htilominlo Pagoda.

“We have to follow the COVID-19 precautions but we need the pandemic to end as soon as possible as we have suffered enough,” she added.

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