Face-masked visitors flock to Paris's Louvre as it reopens after four months – in pictures

The museum – the most visited in the world – has been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic

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The Louvre in Paris – the world’s most visited museum – reopened on Monday after nearly a four-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With admissions restricted, those who visited on its first day of opening had a rare opportunity to view the Mona Lisa and other treasures without the usual crowds.

epa08530338 President and director of Le Louvre Museum speaks to media about the reopening of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, 06 July 2020. After a nearly four-months closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Louvre Museum reopens to public.  EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON
Jean-Luc Martinez, president and director of Louvre, speaks to media about the reopening. EPA

Several dozen visitors queued outside the vast former palace of France’s kings, eagerly awaiting the opening at 9am, which was met with impromptu applause.

“I am very, very happy to welcome visitors to a museum that exists first and foremost to welcome visitors,” said museum director Jean-Luc Martinez.

“We have dedicated our lives to art, we like to share this passion, and here we are.”

The museum hopes to start recuperating losses estimated at more than €40 million (Dh165.5m) due to the lockdown.

The museum's most popular artworks will be accessible, including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and Louvre's vast antiquities collection.

But galleries in which social distancing is more difficult – about a third of the museum’s total offering – will remain off-limits, with visitor numbers capped at 500 per 30 minutes to lower virus transmission risks.

Face masks are compulsory and no snacks or cloakrooms are available.

Tickets must be bought beforehand online, and were sold out for the long-awaited reopening following the Louvre’s longest closure since the Second World War.

“Some 7,000 people have reserved tickets, normally we host about 30,000 people per day,” said Martinez, who expects tough months and years ahead.

The museum will not get any anywhere near the 9.6 million visitors it hosted last year – down from a record 10 million in 2018. Nearly three-quarters of its visitors in a normal year are from abroad.