Florence’s Duomo introduces self-distancing gadget

Florence’s Duomo has introduced gadgets worn around the neck that will allow people to visit the celebrated cathedral, while still respecting safe distances.

Italy’s most frequented cultural sites are anxious to reopen and recoup lost tourism euros during Italy’s two-month lockdown, while assuring visitors it is safe to do so.

With its bell tower begun by Giotto, and its Brunelleschi dome, the Duomo is one of the Tuscan city’s top tourist attractions.

The Duomo said in a statement Saturday that the device will be handed out for free at the beginning of each visit. When two people approach within a range of 2 metres (6.5 feet), the device will beep softly, vibrate and flash.

“First in the world to use it in the museum context, this system guarantees the maximum of security and comfort during the visit,” said the cathedral, whose official name is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

The devices will be disinfected after each use.

Timothy Verdon, director of the Duomo Museum, said that the cathedral, the adjacent Baptistery and the museum planned to open its doors to Florentines and the city’s visitors “in the upcoming days.”

He did not specify a date.

“Visits to the monuments and museum will be with a reduced number of people. During this initial period, visits will be free. It’s a gesture, to welcome people once again,” Verdon said.

Italy’s government on Saturday decreed that its borders would be opened to European Union tourists, while those within Italy would be free to travel within the country as of June 3.

The measure is intended to help the tourism sector, a major part of Italy’s economy, whose museums, hotels and other establishments have been shuttered since early March due to the coronavirus.

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