Vatican Museums to reopen June 1 with safety measures

Vatican Museums to reopen June 1 with safety measures

A visitor wears a mask for protection from the coronavirus while touring the Vatican Museums in this Feb. 29, 2020, file photo. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

After nearly three months of closure due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Villa of Castel Gandolfo, the longtime papal summer residence, will reopen to the public in June.

ROME – After nearly three months of closure due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Villa of Castel Gandolfo, the erstwhile papal summer residence, will reopen to the public in June.

The Vatican Museums will reopen June 1 while the villa in Castel Gandolfo will reopen June 6, the Vatican announced Saturday.

To prevent a second wave of the coronavirus, the Vatican said it will be rolling out a new set of security measures and a restricted schedule, but insisted that for those who come to the museums, their visit will not be “distorted in its essence.”

Everyone who accesses the museums will be required to undergo a temperature scan, and visitors will only be admitted if they are wearing a mask.

During opening hours, medical and healthcare personnel from Italy’s National Confederation of Mercies, one of the country’s largest volunteer federations, will be present and will work alongside the Vatican’s Health and Hygiene Department.

A new plan of admittance to the museums, subject to change at any moment depending on the health situation, was established, beginning with the requirement to reserve tickets online in advance on the Vatican Museums website.

Due to the “extraordinary situation,” the Vatican said it is waiving the roughly $4 presale fee typically charged when tickets are purchased online.

Museum hours will also be restricted as things get going. From Monday to Thursday the museums will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday they will be open from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., with the last admittance beginning at 8p.m.

On Friday and Saturday, visitors will also be able to reserve a table for an aperitif in the outdoor courtyard of the museums. Reservations must be made in advance and will be limited due to a reduced number of tables in order to comply with social distancing requirements.

To avoid drawing too big a crowd, the Vatican for the moment has suspended the typical free visit to the museums on the last Sunday of the month.

A new open bus tour of the Vatican Gardens will also be available. Like the museums, reservations must be made in advance on the Vatican Museums website.

Roughly 45 minutes outside of Rome, the Pontifical Villa of Castel Gandolfo will also face restrictions as they reopen to the public June 6.

A longtime summer residence for popes who wanted to escape the Roman heat during July and August, the residence has been empty for the past seven years, as Pope Francis prefers to spend his summers in the Eternal City.

In 2016, three years after Francis’s election, the villa was opened to the public to help generate revenue for the small town where it is located, and to offer viewers a peek into the papal apartments at the villa.

Initially, the villa will only be open on Saturday and Sunday from 10a.m. until 6p.m., with the last admittance at 5p.m., but this could also change depending on the status of the coronavirus.

All visitors will be required to undergo a temperature scan and must be wearing a mask to enter. Like the Vatican Museums, tickets must be purchased online in advance.

The train to Castel Gandolfo which leaves from the Vatican train station is also suspended for the foreseeable future.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen

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