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Eiffel Tower gets ready to reopen after longest closure since World War II

Eiffel Tower rises above Trocadero Square in Paris
People stroll at Trocadero Square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on May 25. The tower is set to reopen next week.
(Michel Euler / Associated Press)

Workers are preparing the Eiffel Tower for reopening next week after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the iconic Paris landmark’s longest closure since World War II.

France’s tourism industry is opening back up, but the 1,063-foot-tall wrought-iron tower won’t immediately welcome visitors the way it did before the country went into lockdown in March.

Only limited numbers of people will be allowed in when the Eiffel Tower opens again June 25. Elevators to the top will be out of service, at least initially, 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.

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Everyone older than 11 will be required to wear face coverings, and crowd-control measures will be in place.

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

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

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“There is a new protocol,” said Eiffel Tower hygiene consultant Alain Miralles. “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.”

Tourists planning trips to the City of Light are advised to book tickets to visit the Eiffel Tower online once the ticket office reopens Thursday.

Paris tourism officials have expressed muted optimism about the city’s reemergence as a travel destination. Since confinement measures were imposed in March, tourism levels have dropped by around 80% compared with the same month in previous years, they say.

“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.

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Hotel owners are also keen to welcome visitors again, if realistic about the challenges ahead — and the competition among European countries to draw tourists back in the coronavirus era.

“Everyone is Europe is looking to draw the European clientele. The Italians want to bring in the French, the Germans want to attract the Danes,” said Serge Cachan, president of France’s Astotel Group. He pointed out the plexiglass protections in the reception area of one of his hotels and arrows to ensure social distancing.

He welcomed Macron’s decision Sunday to let Paris restaurants reopen earlier than planned. “Without restaurants, there is no conviviality, there is no tourism, there are no clients in hotels,” he said in an interview.

“The message I would like to on-pass to the city of Paris is: Hurry and open up all of the tourist attractions and activities.”


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