Covid-19: Italy suspends free museum Sundays to limit crowds

Covid-19: Italy suspends free museum Sundays to limit crowds
No more free entry to the Colosseum: Italy has suspended its free museum Sundays. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
The Italian government has put its popular free museum days on hold to avoid visitors packing in and raising the risk of coronavirus infections.

State-run museums and archaeological sites won't be offering free entry this weekend after the Ministry of Health suspended the scheme because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Italy's Culture Ministry requested the move “in consideration of the evolving epidemiological situation on an international level”, it said in a statement, in line with a raft of social distancing measures implemented by Italian museums since they reopened in May.

While some sites have relaxed some of the rules since then, they continue to limit the number of people allowed to enter at once and require the public to keep at least a metre apart. Many require visitors to book a time slot in advance.

Millions of visitors have taken advantage of Italy's free museum Sundays since they were introduced in 2014.

The scheme makes all nationally owned heritage sites, including world-famous attractions such as the Colosseum, Pompeii, Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia, the Reggia di Caserta and Trieste's Miramare Castle, free to enter on the first Sunday of the month – inevitably drawing long lines of Italian and international visitors alike.

The offer does not apply to sites that are run by local authorities rather than the state, though many cities run similar initiatives of their own.

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Most sites had already suspended free openings before the government directive, which remains effective until further notice.

The Vatican Museums, which used to offer free entry on the last Sunday of the month, have also put their scheme on hold.

Other safety precautions adopted by Italian museums include temperature checks on entry, one-way routes for visitors and compulsory face masks throughout.

You can find a full list of which state-run museums are currently open to the public on the Ministry of Culture's website


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