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As Italy relaxes its lockdown restrictions, museums and religious centres are reopening with new safety measures to reduce the risk of spreading the novel Coronavirus outbreak. Florence’s Duomo is welcoming visitors with a high-tech social distancing device that tracks their movements inside the Cathedral. By Upasana Singh
After being closed for more than two months due to Italy’s COVID-19 emergency, Florence’s Cathedral of S. Maria del Fiore reopened to the public this week. While the Cathedral, Museum, Baptistery, and Giotto’s Bell Tower are open for free, the Brunelleschi’s Dome remains closed until June 18, as it is under maintenance. Online booking is mandatory for people who wish to visit the 15th-century third-largest church in the world.
The authorities are welcoming visitors with a new social distancing device that is worn around the neck. Explaining the new technology in a video posted on YouTube, the officials revealed that it is crafted by the Italian company Advance Microwave Engineering and is set to beep, vibrate, and flash when people come within two meters of each other. As reported by France 24, Timothy Verdon, director of the Cathedral’s museum said, “It is a device that immediately alerts you if you are too close to another visitor. So, it won’t be a question of evaluating the distance a bit vaguely. By wearing it, the visitor will feel the sensor with a vibration and a sound that will inform him that he’s too close to another person, less than two meters away.”
Visitors to the museum and the Cathedral will be given a lanyard free of charge upon entry. After each visit, the device will get thoroughly sanitised before reuse. Moreover, at the entrance, thermal scanners will be used by guards to check the temperature of each visitor, before they are given the social distancing device. Plans to drastically reduce the number of visitors allowed into the space have also been set in motion.
Known for its innovative red-brick dome, designed by architect Filippo Brunelleschi, the house of worship usually attracts about 2,600 people each day, but due to the global pandemic, the number has gone down to just 200.
As Italy begins to resume life post-lockdown, some people are still afraid to travel. The new safety measures introduced in Florence’s Duomo is a step towards comforting visitors and alleviating some of those anxieties.