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Famous tourist sites remain closed as lockdown rules are eased

World News | Published:

Visitor to France will not yet be able to see the Mona Lisa, climb the Eiffel Tower or look around the Palace of Versailles.

Mona Lisa

None of France’s three most famous tourist sites will reopen when the country lifts most of its remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions next week.

The Mona Lisa will remain locked away from public view in the Louvre while the Eiffel Tower and Palace of Versailles will also stay off limits.

Some of Europe’s other major cultural sites are also taking their time to reopen.

The Eiffel Tower likely will not be able to reopen before the second half of June, according to Stephane Dieu, a labour representative for the monument’s staff.

He said they still need to fine tune with the site’s management how to protect employees and visitors and to maintain social distancing.

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Francois Mori/AP)
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Francois Mori/AP)

“For the moment, it’s not possible with all of the best will in the world,” Mr Dieu said.

When the tower does reopen, sightseers seeking breathtaking views of Paris may be in for a stair workout: the lifts that usually whisk visitors to the three different levels will likely remain closed, Mr Dieu said.

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At the Louvre Museum, managers have told workers they are aiming to reopen some time between the end of June and mid-July, said Andre Sacristin, a labour representative who has been involved in the planning discussions.

When the museum reopens, there will be strict public hygiene rules and visiting “the Louvre will not at all be as it was before. That’s impossible”, Mr Sacristin said.

He said he expects everyone, staff members and visitors, will have to wear face masks.

Virus Outbreak France’s Iconic Sites
A woman walks past the closed Chateau de Versailles (Michel Euler/AP)

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About 20%-30% of the museum’s rooms might be closed but “of course the Mona Lisa will be open”, Mr Sacristin said.

Details will be ironed out in further meetings between management and staff.

The Versailles Palace, the former home of France’s kings, also will not reopen on Tuesday, when most of the remaining lockdown restrictions are lifted in France.

The palace said a date for reopening has not yet been decided.

Adapting major tourists draws to coronavirus imperatives is taking time elsewhere, too.

The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain (Andrew Matthews/PA)
The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain (Andrew Matthews/PA)

In Madrid, the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen museums, the so-called “triangle of the arts”, are scheduled to jointly reopen on June 6, two weeks after they were officially allowed to welcome visitors again.

Initially, some of their exhibition space will remain closed and visitor numbers will be limited to 30% of their size before the pandemic.

While smaller Spanish museums were quick to reopen this month, major ones said they needed more time to prepare protective gear for staff, temperature checks for visitors and crowd-control measures.

The Prado, the crown jewel of Spanish museums, housing works by Francisco de Goya, Diego de Velazquez and other masters, has been shut since March 11, its longest closure in eight decades, since the 1936-1939 Civil War.

The slogan chosen by the museum for its re-opening is Re-encounter.

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