St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square are closed to tourists until April 3 to prevent the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Italy.
This was announced through the Vatican's official online publication, The Holy See Press Office Bulletin, on March 9, 2020 (Philippine time).
It said that the temporary shutdown is in accordance with the quarantine measures "launched by the Italian authorities," which "include the precautionary closure of the Vatican Museums, the Excavation Office, the Museum of the Pontifical Villas and the museum centres of the Pontifical Basilicas."
St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square are renowned tourist spots, especially for Catholics who want to take part in the well-attended liturgies presided by Pope Francis.
The Holy See Press Office also clarified in its statement that "only one positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed" in Vatican City as of press time.
ITALY CLOSES RECREATIONAL FACILITIES NATIONWIDE
The temporary shutdown of Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Basilica, and St. Peter's Square is just a fragment of their government's extensive scheme to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to Business Insider, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday after the country's confirmed cases exceeded 9,100, with death tolls at 463, on Monday night.
The Italian government has also ordered the "closure of all cinemas, theatres, museums, nightclubs and casinos throughout the country," says The Local Italy.
Other famous tourist sites closed until April 3 are The Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Domus Aurea, Pantheon, Galleria Borghese, Uffizi Galleries, and Reggia di Caserta.
Masses are also prohibited starting Monday.