Virus fears close down France’s Louvre Museum

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 20: The Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre) and the Louvre museum are seen at night on February 20, 2020 in Paris, France. The prestigious Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the Louvre Museum, the largest ever devoted to the Italian painter will conclude at the end of February. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

PARIS (AP) — The spreading coronavirus epidemic shut down France’s Louvre Museum on Sunday, with workers who guard its trove of art works fearful of being contaminated by the museum’s flow of visitors from around the world.

“We are very worried because we have visitors from everywhere,” said Andre Sacristin, a Louvre employee and union representative for its staffers.

“The risk is very, very, very great,” he said in a phone interview. While there are no known virus infections among the museum’s 2,300 workers, “it’s only a question of time,” he said.

A short statement from the Louvre said a staff meeting about virus prevention efforts stopped the museum from opening as scheduled Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon, would-be visitors were still waiting to get inside.