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Eiffel Tower to reopen after coronavirus forced longest closure since WWII

Coronavirus outbreak: Eiffel Tower lights up in tribute to essential workers
ABOVE: Eiffel Tower lights up in tribute to essential workers.

Workers are preparing the Eiffel Tower for reopening next week, after the coronavirus pandemic led to the iconic Paris landmark’s longest closure since World War II.

France’s tourism industry is opening back up, but the 324-meter tall wrought-iron tower won’t immediately welcome visitors the way it did before the country went into lockdown in March.

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Only limited numbers of people will be allowed in when the Eiffel Tower opens again on June 25. Elevators to the top will be out of service, and only the first and second floors will be accessible to the public.

“At first, only visits by the stairs will be available,” Victoria Klahr, the spokeswoman for the tower’s management, said Tuesday.

Everyone over 11 years old will be required to wear face masks, and crowd control measures will be in place.

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“We are optimistic that visitor numbers will pick up, even if it will likely be local tourists who visit the monument in the first weeks,” Klahr said.

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

“There is a new protocol. (One) novelty is that 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,” said Eiffel Tower hygiene consultant Alain Miralles.

Tourists planning trips to the City of Light are advised to book tickets to visit the Eiffel Tower online. The online ticket office is set to open Thursday.

Paris tourism officials have expressed muted optimism about the city’s re-emergence as a travel destination. Tourism levels have dropped by around 80 per cent compared to the same month in previous years, they say.

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“To visit Paris now is quite exceptional, as we of course don’t have many visitors and we don’t expect this summer to be at the same level as previous ones,” said Corinne Menegaux, the director of Paris’s businesses and tourism office.

She said the French capital remains welcoming and charming despite all the restrictions still in place.

“Let’s also not forget that Paris is one of the greenest cities around so there are plenty of outdoor activities available that can be done with families,” Menegaux said.