The Vatican Museums, which house some of the world’s most famous art treasures, will close for a month in line with Italy’s new restrictions to tame a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths.
The vast museums re-opened to limited visitors on June 1 after a three-month closure during the first COVID-19 wave in Italy.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Vatican said they would be closed from Thursday to at least Dec. 3.
Italy on Wednesday was due to enact more stringent measures, including a nationwide nightly curfew and the closure of museums and exhibitions, according to a draft decree seen by Reuters.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican Museums, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, drew about 6 million people a year and were a cash cow helping Vatican finances.
On Wednesday morning, Pope Francis’ weekly general audience, which had resumed with the public participating, was moved back indoors and held virtually after one participant tested positive at a public audience last month.
Speaking from his private library with only a handful of priests assisting him, the pope urged people to follow coronavirus guidelines set by authorities and health experts.