WORLD NEWS

France's Louvre Museum Ends 3-Day Closure Over Coronavirus Fears

Museum officials reopened the Paris institution after unionized workers agreed to new safety measures.

Paris’s famed Louvre Museum reopened Wednesday after closing on Sunday in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.

The largest art museum in the world, which averages more than 30,000 daily visitors, tweeted Wednesday morning that its doors were back open, making good on a Tuesday announcement that the museum would resume normal hours “as soon as possible.”

The Louvre, which welcomes millions of foreign tourists every year, temporarily closed its doors on Sunday after employees raised concerns about their heightened risk of exposure to the virus due to interacting with thousands of international visitors every day. Several reportedly also expressed fear about a number of museum workers from Italy, where there is a large outbreak of the virus, who were at the Louvre to collect Leonardo da Vinci pieces on loan for a special exhibition. 

“We are very worried because we have visitors from everywhere,” Andre Sacristin, a Louvre employee and union representative, told The Associated Press earlier this week. “The risk is very, very, very great.”

Though none of the museum’s 2,300 workers are known to have been infected with coronavirus, “it’s only a question of time,” Sacristin emphasized.

After meetings between the museum’s management, medical professionals and staff representatives over the past three days to come up with new safety measures, employees voted Wednesday morning to return to work, Sacristin told The New York Times

The agreed-upon safety measures include providing all employees with face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, and a new policy that the majority of ticket sales will take place via self-service machines. Additionally, employees selling tickets in-person will do so from behind a glass barrier and accept only credit cards as payment, not cash.

As of Wednesday, French officials have confirmed 257 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, in the country. Four people have died. Globally, there have been more than 92,000 confirmed cases and 3,200 deaths associated with the virus, with the vast majority of both in mainland China.  

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