Eiffel Tower to reopen after longest closure since WWII

AP International News

People stroll at Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Monday, May 25, 2020, as France gradually lifts its Covid-19 lockdown. In Paris, where all city parks remain closed, residents stroll along the Seine river and outside the Tuileries Gardens. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS (AP) — Workers are preparing the Eiffel Tower to reopen next week after the coronavirus pandemic led to the iconic Paris landmark’s longest closure since World War II.

But as France’s tourism industry starts back up in earnest, the 324-meter-tall wrought-iron tower won’t immediately welcome visitors in the way it did before the country’s virus lockdown.

The number of people allowed in will be limited 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 accessible to the public. Individuals interested in combining sightseeing and workouts will be in luck.

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

Everyone over age 11 also will be required to wear face masks, while crowd control measures will be in place, according to the tower’s management.

“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.

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

Paris tourism officials have expressed muted optimism about the city’s reemergence as a travel destination following France’s nationwide lockdown that started in March.

“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, Paris businesses and tourism office director.

Officials have said that tourism levels have dropped by around 80% compared to the same month in previous years.

But they are touting the French capital’s charms all the same.

“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.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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