Vatican Museums, Holy See's cash cow, to reopen from 1 June

Visitors will have their temperatures checked and will have to wear masks and use hand sanitizer

The Vatican Museums in Viale Vaticano in Rome

The Vatican Museums will reopen on 1 June, the Vatican said on Saturday, ending a closure caused by the coronavirus lockdown that has drained the Holy See’s coffers. The Museums, which house some of the world’s greatest Renaissance masterpieces as well as ancient Roman and Egyptian artefacts, can be visited, however, only by making on-line reservations in order to control the number of people.

Visitors will have their temperatures checked and will have to wear masks and use hand sanitizer. Staff will wear masks and gloves and health workers will be on hand. Similar conditions will apply to visitors to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.

Italian museums began reopening on 18 May as part of a staged easing of lockdown measures in the country where nearly 33,000 people have died from the virus.

The pandemic has drastically slowed the flow of funds to the Vatican’s coffers. The Museums received some 7 million visitors last year and are the Holy See’s most reliable source of income, previously generating an estimated $100m yearly.

Even after the reopening, officials fear that enhanced security measures, social distancing requirements, new health regulations and an expected dearth of international tourists will erode ticket and souvenir sales.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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