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No Eiffel, Mona Lisa or Versailles: Iconic sites stay closed

Hold that smile, Mona Lisa. The Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles will remain off-limits for the immediate future, too.

None of France's three most iconic tourist sites will reopen when the country lifts most of its remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions next week. Some of Europe’s other major cultural sites are also taking their time to reopen.

The Eiffel Tower likely won't be able to reopen before the second half of June, according to Stephane Dieu, a labor representative for the monument's staff. He said they still need to fine tune with the site's management how to protect employees and visitors and to maintain social distancing.

FILE - In this April 21, 2020 file photo, a woman walks past the closed Chateau de Versailles, west of Paris. Iconic sites that are among some of France's biggest tourist draws won't reopen when the country lifts most of its coronavirus restrictions next week. Neither the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower nor the Versailles Palace will be reopening next week when France lifts many of its remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (AP PhotoMichel Euler, File)

“For the moment, it's not possible with all of the best will in the world,” Dieu said.

When the tower does reopen, sightseers seeking breathtaking views of Paris may be in for a stair workout: the elevators that usually whisk visitors to the three different levels will likely remain closed, Dieu said.

At the Louvre Museum, managers have told workers they are aiming to reopen some time between the end of June and mid-July, said Andre Sacristin, a labor representative who has been involved in the planning discussions.

FILE - In this March 13, 2020 file photo, people walk by the Louvre Museum, in Paris. Iconic sites that are among some of France's biggest tourist draws won't reopen when the country lifts most of its coronavirus restrictions next week. Neither the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower nor the Versailles Palace will be reopening next week when France lifts many of its remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (AP PhotoThibault Camus, File)

When the museum reopens, there will be strict public hygiene rules and visiting “the Louvre will not at all be as it was before. That’s impossible,” Sacristin said.

He said he expects everyone, staff members and visitors, will have to wear face masks.

About 20%-30% of the museum’s rooms might be closed but “of course the Mona Lisa will be open," Sacristin said.

People stroll at Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Monday, May 25, 2020, as France gradually lifts its Covid-19 lockdown. In Paris, where all city parks remain closed, residents stroll along the Seine river and outside the Tuileries Gardens. (AP PhotoMichel Euler)

Details will be ironed out in further meetings between management and staff.

The Versailles Palace, the former home of France’s kings, also won't reopen Tuesday, when most of the remaining lockdown restrictions are lifted in France.

The palace said a date for reopening hasn't yet been decided.

People stroll at Trocadero square next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sunday, May 17, 2020 as France gradually lifts its Covid-19 lockdown. Parisians enjoying their first weekend in the sun since travel and movement restrictions were partially lifted. (AP PhotoMichel Euler)

Adapting major tourists draws to coronavirus imperatives is taking time elsewhere, too.

In Madrid, the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen museums - the so-called “triangle of the arts”- are scheduled to jointly reopen on June 6, two weeks after they were officially allowed to welcome visitors again.

Initially, some of their exhibition space will remain closed and visitor numbers will be limited to 30% of their size before the pandemic.

While smaller Spanish museums were quick to reopen this month, major ones said they needed more time to prepare protective gear for staff, temperature checks for visitors and crowd-control measures.

The Prado, the crown jewel of Spanish museums, housing works by Francisco de Goya, Diego de Velázquez and other masters, has been shut since March 11, its longest closure in eight decades, since the 1936-1939 Civil War.

The slogan chosen by the museum for its re-opening is “Re-encounter.”

AP writer Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed.