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Paris Has Weathered Many Crises — Now Faces Coronavirus

Tourists visit the Louvre Museum in Paris, which reopened March 4, 2020, after being temporarily shut over staff coronavirus concerns. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)

The iconic Louvre Museum opened Wednesday after being shut since Sunday over staff worries about contracting coronavirus.

Maria Salomonis from California plans to visit the museum, but is wearing a mask as a precautionary measure.

"We just don't want to catch anything, or give anything to anybody else," she said, "so it's better we have protection, not for myself but for everybody."

The French government also is taking steps to curtail the spread of the virus. It has banned all major events with more than 5,000 people — which in March alone includes shows, festivals and major trade fairs. Luxury stores are seeing fewer shoppers, especially Chinese ones, and hotels and restaurants are reporting a drop in business.

People look at goods being sold at the iconic kiosks by the Seine River in Paris. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)
People look at goods being sold at the iconic kiosks by the Seine River in Paris. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)

As the world's most popular museum, receiving about 9.6 million visitors last year, the Louvre has taken further measures to respond to staff concerns.

While there no plans to shut other major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower or Disneyland Paris, that could change, said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

For Polish tourist Bartosz Baum, further closures won't ruin his Paris experience.

"We just look around here ... I think it's not a big problem, coronavirus, because we've had more problems with other viruses in recent years," Baum said.

This city has weathered plenty of other problems — strikes, protests and the 2015 terrorist attacks.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday that French growth would slow by more than 0.1 percent overall. The European Union said the coronavirus is costing Europe's tourism industry more than $1 billion a month.

But some tourists, like Maria Alejandra Ortiz from Colombia, are still ready to travel. She said she's not worried about the coronavirus.

"Absolutely no," she said. "I think being aware … the continuous wash[ing] of hands. And the use of anti-bacterial gel."