As Italian authorities prepare to slowly relax lockdown restrictions in the country, a Vatican City official said it will enact new measures and protocols to ensure the safety of visitors to the Vatican Museums.
In an interview with Vatican News published on 9th May, Bishop Fernando Vergez Alzaga, secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, said that due to ongoing health and safety preparations, the museums “do not yet have a definite date on reopening”.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on 26th April that libraries, exhibitions and museums would be allowed to open nationwide on 18th May with limited entrance if they could guarantee visitors would observe social distancing and if the institutions followed health regulations designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Following the lead of the Italian government, the Vatican had announced on 8th March that it was closing the Vatican Museums, the necropolis under St Peter’s Basilica and the museum at the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo – all of which normally draw a large number of international visitors to closed and crowded places.
Bishop Vergez told Vatican News that since then, the limited staff are obliged to wear protective gloves and masks and have their body temperatures measured daily. He also said the installation of thermoscanners to measure the body temperatures of visitors is nearing completion.
Once they reopen, “the museums can only be accessed with a reservation,” he said. “This will allow us to stagger the entrances during opening hours” and “visitors will be required to wear a mask”.
The Vatican Gardens, as well as the museum at the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, will also open with similar protocols in the hopes that local visitors taking weekend trips, “which today seems almost a luxury,” would visit the summer residence of the pontiffs, he said.
Picture: A visitor wears a mask for protection from the coronavirus while touring the Vatican Museums in this 26th February 2020, file photo. A Vatican City official said that the Vatican Museums will have new measures and protocols in place to ensure the safety of visitors when they reopen. No date has been given for reopening the Museums, which have been closed since 9th March on account of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).