France’s Louvre Museum shut down Sunday amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in Europe.
“We are very worried because we have visitors from everywhere,” Andre Sacristin, a Louvre employee and union representative, told The Associated Press. About 75 percent of the art museum’s 9.6 million visitors last year were from abroad.
“The risk is very, very, very great,” he added, saying that it was “only a question of time” before a case emerged among the museum’s 2,300 employees, although no cases have been reported as of Sunday afternoon.
Museum management made the decision to close the museum after the French government on Saturday banned indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people, while Sacristin said Louvrew workers had also expressed concern about workers from northern Italy who were at the museum to collect on-loan works by Leonardo da Vinci.
Italy has been the center of the European outbreak, with more than 1,100 cases and 29 deaths thus far.
Sacristin said a meeting between management and union representatives is scheduled for Monday, saying that all visitors should undergo health checks for the sake of staffers and that managfgement should close the museum if any cases are detected, according to the AP.
He added that while workers have asked for masks to be distributed, so far they have bonly been given hand disinfectant, which he said “didn’t please us at all.”