March 4, 2020
France Reopens The Louvre Amid Coronavirus Fears

The world-famous Louvre museum was reopened in Paris today amid coronavirus (COVID-19) fears. According to HuffPost, the establishment was shut down on Sunday in response to the global outbreak of the virus.

On Saturday, the French government voted to ban all public gatherings attracting over 5,000 people. After several Louvre employees raised concerns over potential exposure to the virus, given that thousands of people visit the place every day, the museum temporarily closed its doors the following day.

"We were ever worried because we have visitors from everywhere," said Louvre employee and union representative Andre Sacristin.

Though none of the Louvre's 2,300 employees has fallen ill, Sacristin added that it is "only a question of time" before one of them does.

During the closure, the museum's management, staff representatives, and medical professionals met to discuss the implementation of new medical safety measures. Under the new measures, Louvre workers will have to wear a face mask and gloves and use hand sanitizer. Ticket sales will now either be handled via self-service machines or with the employee selling tickets from behind a glass barrier. Additionally, no cash will be accepted in the meantime, as

After agreeing upon the new procedures, the group voted to have employees return to work. The Louvre first announced its plan to open "as soon as possible" on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it announced in a press statement that its doors were open for normal business hours. The museum noted that it was an "absolute priority" to "ensure the safety of its employees and its visitors."

Tourists at the Louvre viewing the Mona Lisa
Getty Images | Pascal Le Segretain

Though the majority of coronavirus cases have occurred in China, France has reported 285 cases of the virus, with 73 of them diagnosed in the last 24 hours. As of Wednesday, the illness has resulted in four deaths, The Local reports.

Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye spoke about the issue, saying that it "seems unlikely" that the country will avoid a Stage 3 epidemic, given that they are currently at Stage 2.

France's health minister Olivier Veran also addressed the global health issue, saying that the country is bracing itself for an epidemic. Other health officials have said that the goal is to try to slow down, if not prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Over 70 countries have been affected by the illness, which causes flu-like symptoms and respiratory issues. To date, there have been 92,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths. While the fatality rate for the virus was previously thought to be around 1 to 2 percent, this figure has since been raised to 3.4 percent.