The iconic Louvre Museum in Paris, known as the “most visited museum in the world,” was closed down on Sunday due to the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.
The workers who guard the priceless objets d’art in the museum said they were afraid of contracting the virus from the huge influx of visitors to the museum from around the world.
Some 300 staff members met in the morning and voted “almost unanimously” not to open, Christian Galani of the CGT labor union said, according to AFP.
“The meeting was arranged to discuss the concerns of the staff,” he said, adding management representatives were unable to convince staff to go to work. The workers are demanding increased protective measures which include provision of hand sanitizing gel and window barriers to separate cashiers from the public. The Louvre saw 9.6 million visitors last year alone.
Since the end of January, there have been two deaths and 100 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in France.
“The Louvre is a confined space which welcomes more than 5,000 people a day, Galani said. “There is real concern on the part of the staff.”
The closure came in the wake of a decision by the government on Saturday to ban indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people as a means of attempting to control the spread of the virus.