Kissing ban and closure of Louvre: Coronavirus strikes again
In an escalation of France’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s health secretary called for a stop to the tradition of kissing on the cheeks, Daily Mail reported.
Olivier Veran suggested a hiatus on ‘les bisous’ – a common greeting – and said people should avoid shaking hands. The move came as fears over the virus closed the Louvre gallery in Paris yesterday.
The world’s most-visited museum was shut when its 2,300 workers voted not to open to prevent infection. And on Saturday, the French government banned all indoor gatherings of more than 5 000 people to stop the virus spreading.
A short statement from the Louvre said a staff meeting about virus prevention efforts stopped the museum from opening as scheduled Sunday morning, AP reported.
Many travellers waited outside in hopes of exploring this French landmark, however, the Louvre later announced it would remain closed for the rest of the day.
Andre Sacristin, a Louvre employee and union representative, told AP he was worried.
He told the publication: “We are very worried because we have visitors from everywhere. The risk is very, very, very great. While there are no known virus infections among the museum’s 2 300 workers, “it’s only a question of time,” he said.
Union official Christian Galani told AFP news agency: "The meeting was arranged to discuss the concerns of staff", adding management representatives were unable to convince workers to go to work.
"The Louvre is a confined space which welcomes more than 5 000 people a day," Mr Galani said. "There is real concern on the part of staff." (sic).
It is unclear when it will re-open.
France has reported more than 100 cases of the virus and two people have died.