PARIS, March 13 (Reuters) - Paris’ famed Moulin Rouge cabaret and the Louvre museum were among French cultural landmarks that closed their doors on Friday after the government banned gatherings of more than 100 people to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The cabaret, known for its high-kicking dancers, and many other venues including cinemas were caught on the hop by the lunchtime televised announcement by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Louvre museum, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo sculpture and one of France’s biggest tourist attractions, said it would close its doors from 1800 (1700 GMT).
But some venues were still unsure on Friday afternoon whether or not they would be taking in spectators, including one cinema in central Paris which said it was keeping doors open for now as it expected fewer than 100 people.
Before the prime minister’s announcement on Friday, gatherings of anywhere below 1,000 people were permitted. But France is stepping up its effort to contain the virus. It is also shutting schools from Monday.
The 130-year-old Moulin Rouge - whose can-can shows featuring dancers in dazzling ostrich feather and rhinestone costumes attract scores of visitors - confirmed it would be closed to the public until further notice.
It was offering refunds, or the option of rebooking tickets for another date, a spokeswoman said.
The venue in Paris’s Pigalle neighbourhood, surmounted by a giant red wind mill which has become an attraction in itself, would remain lit up in the meantime however, she added.
“We don’t want the Moulin Rouge to lose all positivity and optimism, we want people to still be able to take photos,” the spokeswoman said.
Some of the Moulin Rouge’s 450 employees would keep working in the meantime, repairing costumes for instance, to be ready to reopen, she added.
La Gaiete Lyrique, a rock concert venue with a capacity of 700 people, said it would be closed until April 6, with many other show halls also following suit.
The Odeon-Theatre de L’Europe venue, which was due to stage Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie with French acting star Isabelle Huppert in the lead role on Friday, also confirmed that performances were cancelled. (Reporting by Sarah White, Dominique Vidalon and Johnny Cotton; Editing by Christian Lowe)