Two days after the Eiffel Tower lit up with fireworks for Bastille Day, the Parisian icon is celebrating another kind of landmark. After a nine-month shutdown caused by the global pandemic, the popular attraction is welcoming visitors again today, July 16. This was the longest closure since World War II.
The daily capacity for the 1,063-foot iron structure will be limited to 13,000 visitors, which is roughly half of its regular level, according to Agence France-Presse via France 24. Normally, it welcomes seven million people a year — of which 75% are foreigners — totaling 300 million guests since its opening in 1889. As of this afternoon local time, the official site said that wait times to visit were "average."
Kiran Ridley/Getty Images A visitor looks out towards the Paris skyline from halfway up the Eiffel Tower as the iconic landmark reopened for the first time in over 8 months on July 16, 2021 in Paris, France.
The nationalities of those who have booked tickets are proof of the pandemic's effect on global travel. Half of the visitors with reservations are French, while those from Italy and Spain represent a higher-than-normal number. About 15% are from the U.S., only a few are from Asia, and hardly any are Brits, AFP reported.
France's COVID-19 infection numbers have been increasing again in recent weeks, as the Delta variant is becoming more pervasive. Earlier this week, President Emmanuel Macron announced a mandate that anyone boarding a train or plane or going to a mall, restaurant, or hospital must present a COVID-19 pass that shows they're fully vaccinated, recently recovered, or have a recent negative test, according to the AP. "The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic touching all our territory," he said, with the Eiffel Tower behind him. "The equation is simple. The more we vaccinate, the less space we leave this virus to circulate."
Kiran Ridley/Getty Images The first visitors to the Eiffel Tower in over 8 months queue to enter on July 16, 2021 in Paris, France. The iconic Paris landmark has been closed since October 30th, 2020, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic restrictions, it's longest closure since WWII.
The new mandate affects visitors to the Eiffel Tower: Starting July 21, everyone 18 or older will need to show an EU COVID Certificate for entry. "Obviously, it's an additional operational complication, but it's manageable," Jean-François Martins of the Eiffel Tower's operating company, Sete, told AFP.
The latest U.S. Department of State warning has France at a Level 3 advisory, recommending Americans "reconsider travel to France due to COVID-19."