The Vatican Museums will be closing in a precautionary measure brought about by an uptick in Italy’s recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths, the Vatican announced. The closures, set to last from November 5 until December 3, will affect the Vatican Museums and the Necropolis tours, as well as the Museum of the Pontifical Villas at Castel Gandolfo.
The Vatican Museums were closed at the beginning of the world pandemic, but they reopened to limited visitors in June. Now, Catholic Philly reports, the decision to close the doors of the museums comes after an attendee at Pope Francis’ October 21 general audience was diagnosed with COVID-19.
It was due to this infection that the pope has also decided that he will be moving his weekly general audience back to an online format. Crux reports that Pope Francis will live-stream his addresses from the Vatican Library, as he did earlier this year. The pope’s change in venue is expected to last through the duration of the museum closures. However, the November 5 – December 3 timeline may be subject to extension if Italy’s increase in COVID-19 cases continues to persist in December.
The Vatican’s decision to reinstate its strictest pandemic protocols comes as Italy is once again tightening social restrictions. According to America Magazine, the Italian government has set a curfew each night from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., which is also to last through the same timeframe as the Vatican’s closures. Italian health authorities reported 28,244 new cases of COVID-19 on November 3, with 353 COVID-related deaths since the previous day.