Coronavirus: St. Peter's Basilica to reopen on Monday after two-month closure

A Vatican staff member in protective gear sanitizes the interior of St. Peter's Basilica, as part of efforts to combat a spread of the coronavirus, at the Vatican, on May 15, 2020. (Reuters)

Saint Peter's Basilica will fully reopen to all visitors on Monday after a two-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Holy See said on Friday.

The largest Catholic church in the world has been disinfected ahead of the opening, with a team of suited and masked cleaners spraying every surface of the 23,000-square metre (250,000-square foot) site.

Pope Francis is not yet expected to lead any public religious ceremonies either in the basilica, which can accommodate 60,000 people, or in Saint Peter's Square, as the Vatican seeks to avoid crowds.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

The Vatican State, an independent enclave in the heart of Rome, has applied the same anti-virus measures as Italy, where the official death toll from the virus stands at over 31,000.

The basilica has been closed for all religious ceremonies since March 10, when the Italian government imposed a nationwide lockdown, but individual worshippers were allowed access for private prayer.

A Vatican staff member in protective gear sanitizes the interior of St. Peter's Basilica, as part of efforts to combat a spread of the coronavirus, at the Vatican, on May 15, 2020. (Reuters)

A Vatican staff member in protective gear sanitizes the interior of St. Peter's Basilica, as part of efforts to combat a spread of the coronavirus, at the Vatican, on May 15, 2020. (Reuters)

Workers on Friday cleaned the sumptuous marble floors in the 16th century building, wielding spray canisters on the giant doors to Bernini's famous bronze Baldachin.

Vatican health official Andrea Arcangeli said the spray used was "a solution based on dilute chlorine, dosed to avoid damaging precious surfaces and works of art".

The basilica, as well as three other papal basilicas, is expected to follow a recommendation from Italy's interior ministry limiting attendance at religious celebrations in enclosed places of worship to 200 people.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:02 - GMT 07:02
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