Eiffel Tower to re-open after lockdown, but visitors will have to use the stairs

A sign reading, "Wearing a mask is mandatory" at the entrance of the Eiffel Tower on June 17, 2020, as workers prepare to re-open it to the public following a lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
A sign reading, "Wearing a mask is mandatory" at the entrance of the Eiffel Tower on June 17, 2020, as workers prepare to re-open it to the public following a lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus. © Christian Hartmann, Reuters

The Eiffel Tower is preparing to welcome back visitors after the Covid-19 lockdown, but they will need to be fit: Because of lingering concerns about infection, the elevators will initially be off-limits.

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Workers at the Parisian landmark, which looms 324 metres (1,062 feet) over the French capital, were on Wednesday making preparations to re-open on June 25, after three months of shutdown. It has been the site’s longest period out of action since World War Two.

Managers said they hoped to get operations fully back to normal later in the summer. In the meantime, a series of safety measures will be in place.

Visitors will not be able to go any higher than the second level of the tower, and until the start of July access will be only via the staircases. The elevators, with their confined space, represent a risk of disease transmission.

There will also be a one-way traffic system in force on the staircases, and all visitors over the age of 11 will be required to wear a face covering.

A stringent cleaning operation is in place and will continue daily from next week.

“There is a new protocol,” said Eiffel Tower hygiene consultant Alain Miralles. “The day cleaning teams will be able to clean all the points of contact every two hours, from the opening of the site to its closing.”

Tourists planning trips to the City of Light are advised to book tickets to visit the Eiffel Tower online once the ticket office reopens Thursday.

Paris tourism officials have expressed muted optimism about the city’s reemergence as a travel destination. Since confinement measures were imposed in March, tourism levels have dropped by around 80 percent compared to the same month in previous years, they say.

“To attract people, the most important thing is that security measures are taken, and that's why we're promoting safe distances,” said Patrick Branco Ruivo, director of the Eiffel Tower's operating company.

He said that with foreign travel yet to recover from restrictions put in place to slow the pandemic, most of the visitors would in the initial stage be domestic.

“For the French public, this is the moment to come to the Eiffel Tower,” he added.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

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