France’s Louvre stays shut amid staff fears of virus spread

PARIS (AP) — The Louvre Museum was closed again yesterday as management met with staff worried about the spread of the new virus in the world’s most-visited museum.

Most of the Louvre’s 9.6 million visitors last year came from other countries, and the museum houses the Mona Lisa and other treasures welcomes tens of thousands of people every day.

The French government banned any indoor gatherings larger than 5,000 people to prevent the spread of the virus, and Louvre workers worried about their own safety blocked the museum from opening last Sunday, leaving confused tourists standing for hours in hopes of getting in.

A Louvre official said a meeting was held yesterday with staff representatives, to determine the next steps.

France reported 130 cases of the virus, and more than half of France’s regions now have at least one case.

Workers asked for masks and health checks on visitors.

Union representative Christian Galani questioned why the Louvre isn’t covered by the new ban on large indoor gatherings, telling The AP, “You will easily admit that the Louvre Museum is a confined space and that it receives more than 5,000 people a day.”

Culture Minister Franck Riester argued on France-Info radio that Louvre visitors move from room to room, which does not present the same risk as a closed concert hall, for example.

A view of the Louvre museum, in Paris, France. PHOTO: AP