Rome, June 2 (IANS) The Colosseum in Rome reopened its doors to the public along with Italy’s other cultural sites in a step towards post-coronavirus normality after almost three months of closures.
The Italian capital’s ancient amphitheatre welcomed visitors on Monday but without the normal queues of tourists and amid stricter security measures, reports Efe news.
It had been closed to the public since March 8 when the Italian government imposed a lockdown to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum archaeological park, described it as a “tragic moment” at the reopening ceremony.
The historical site spent 84 days in silence and was allowed to let visitors in again after the outbreak was brought under control in Italy.
The country was one of the worst-hit by the pandemic. It currently accounts for 233,197 COVID-19 cases, with 33,475 deaths.
The Colosseum is a national symbol of Italian culture and the reopening ceremony had a celebratory air, attended by military officers and government officials.
There are a series of new security measures to avoid any fresh infections at the site.
To enter the building visitors must pass in front of an electronic device that records their temperature and ensures they are wearing a mask.
Advance ticket reservations have been made mandatory, with modified hours to avoid peak hours on public transport and two new tours have been introduced on an experimental basis until June 30.
The same security measures are also in place at the nearby Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, which have four different tours of different durations.
A doctor has also been stationed at the entrance of the Colosseum.
The monument normally welcomes an average of 20,000 visitors a day and a total of 7.5 million in 2019, of which 70 per cent were foreign.
Italian authorities closed the country’s borders three months ago which put a stop to all international tourism.
Italy’s museums and cultural sites have all been closed in recent months but now they are beginning to return to normality.
The Vatican Museums and Papal Palace also received their first tourists on Monday after three months of closure.
From Tuesday, which is Italian National Day, Rome’s remaining museums will also be allowed to reopen.