Belgium‘s iconic Atomium building in the capital reopened its doors to the public on Monday, after months-long closure since March 14 when Belgium imposed a nationwide lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The reopening was attended by Belgium’s Princess Astrid, Prince Lorenz and Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes, among others. Following the performance of the national anthem, mask-wearing Princess Astrid cut the ribbon to mark the reopening of the landmark site.
Built on the occasion of the 1958 Universal Exhibition and representing the conventional iron crystal mesh magnified 165 billion times, the Atomium is on the verge of bankruptcy, with an estimated loss of 3 million euros (3.3 million United States dollars) due to containment, local media reported.
Wilmes said the Atomium’s reopening marked the return of some degree of freedom, saying that, even if masks and social distance were necessary, this “should not keep us from enjoying the culture,” Brussels Times reported in an online story.
For the reopening, a thermal camera has been installed to check visitors’ temperature and the use of face masks and sanitizing gel will be mandatory before entering, said the report.
Tickets can only be purchased online, and a safety distance of 1.5 meters between visitors is required.
The number of visitors allowed inside at once will be capped to 150 and a maximum of six people will be allowed inside the lift at a time, instead of the usual 16, said the report.
Nineteen more COVID-19 patients had died in Belgium in a 24-hour period, taking the country’s death toll to 9,486 since the start of the pandemic, according to figures released on Monday by the public health institute Sciensano.
In the 24-hour span, 136 new cases of COVID-19 infection were reported, raising the total to 58,517.