June 25, 2020 / 7:54 AM / 12 days ago

The 674 steps: Eiffel Tower reopens, minus lifts, after virus break

PARIS (Reuters) - The Eiffel Tower on Thursday welcomed its first visitors for three months - but with elevators still off-limits, they faced a long climb to sample its breathtaking views.

Shut down in mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak - its longest period out of action since World War Two - Paris’s most famous landmark re-opened under strict hygiene and safety controls.

All wearing face masks as directed on a hot and sunny day, tourists queued up for security checks at the entrance, where hand gel dispensers have been installed, before setting off up the 674 steps to the tower’s second floor.

“It’s great because I never was on the Eiffel Tower and it’s our last day here,” said Anni Koehler, from Germany, while buying tickets. “So we hoped that we can do it and it fits perfectly,”

The top section of the 324-meter high (1,062-foot) tower remains closed, and its elevators will not come back into service for visitors until next month, with a one-way traffic system in operation on the staircases.

The tower’s management team hopes to get operations fully back to normal later in the summer.

Reporting by Charles Platiau, Lucien Libert, Noemie Olive and Antony Paone; Writing by Matthieu Protard; editing by Christian Lowe and John Stonestreet

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