Belgium’s iconic Atomium building opened its doors on Monday in the presence of the prime minister and of Prince and Princess Lorenz and Astrid of Belgium.
A masked Prince Astrid snipped the cordon to mark the reopening of the landmark site following 11 weeks of closure under the nationwide lockdown.
After the Belgian flag retook its place atop the highest orb of the 102-metre building as the national anthem played, the Atomium’s doors officially reopened at 11:30 AM.
At the height of the pandemic, the Belgian standard had been replaced by a flag with a message of thanks to the country’s health care personnel.
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès also attended the event and was one of the first to visit the site alongside the royal couple, with all three photographed in their face masks as they greeted fellow visitors.
Speaking to the press, Wilmès said the Atomium’s reopening marked the return of some degree of freedom, saying that, even if masks and social distance were necessary, this “should not keep us from enjoying culture.”
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close and two local councillors also attended the reopening of the site, which according to Le Soir is quite popular among Belgians, who make up around 30% of the Atomium’s visitors.
For the reopening, a thermal camera has been installed to check visitors’ temperature and the use of face masks and sanitising gel will be mandatory before entering.
The number of visitors allowed inside at once will be capped to 150 and a maximum of six people will be allowed inside the lift at a time, instead of the usual 16.
Visitors wishing to come will have to book their tickets online as the site’s ticket booth will remain closed, just like the restaurant and the gift shop. The snack stand will remain open but without a terrace.