The Louvre has reopened in Paris, four months after the coronavirus pandemic forced the world's most visited museum to shut its doors. With American tourists banned from the EU, the museum is expecting a slow summer.
The Louvre museum in Paris reopened on Monday after 16 weeks of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, though much of the museum remains off-limits.
While popular attractions like Leonardo Da Vinci's the "Mona Lisa" and the Louvre's massive antiquities collection will be accessible, other galleries where social distancing is difficult will remain closed, leaving nearly a third of the museum's galleries inaccessible to the public, the museum said.
To avoid the typical crowding for a selfie in front of Da Vinci's masterpiece, the museum said it had installed markers on the floor to keep visitors at a safe distance from each other. Arrows have also been placed throughout the museum, located in the vast former palace of France's kings, to keep crowds moving smoothly and safely. Doubling back is not allowed, the museum said.
Paris misses its American tourists
The world's most visited museum has lost over €40 million ($45 million) in ticket sales over the near-four-month lockdown.
Around 70% of the museums 9.6 million visitors in 2019 were from abroad. With tourism and travel sharply curbed by the coronavirus outbreak, Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez told AFP the outlook for 2020 is bleak. "We are losing 80% of our public," he said. "We are going to be at best 20% to 30% down on last summer -- between 4,000 and 10,000 visitors a day."
Due to the intensity of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, a travel ban for Americans remains in effect in EU countries. Previously the largest demographic of visitors to the Louvre, their absence will be felt this summer.
Martinez said the museum will strive to make up for the loss by attracting more French visitors. The Louvre is in the midst of redefining its image as it seeks to move away from its elitist reputation before the Paris Olympics scheduled for 2024.
Martinez said he hopes to build on the success of the Louvre's outpost museum in Lens, a poor former mining town in northern France.