Bilbao, Spain. (KOLD News 13) - After free weekend tickets were snapped up online within an hour to celebrate their 23rd anniversary, Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum decided to double its offer on Saturday, Oct. 17 by extending free entry to the public for a further two days.
The museum’s normal capacity of 1400 visitors was halved to a 700 person maximum and tickets are only available online- while visitor entry is staggered throughout the day to avoid large group gatherings.
On Saturday visitors had their temperatures measured and were given hand sanitizer before entering, holding up a scanned ticket or mobile phone to avoid physical contact.
Public spaces were constantly wiped down with disinfectant by the museum’s staff.
While overall entrance figures are down by 75 percent due to travel restrictions during COVID-19 and the collapse of foreign tourism in Spain, the museum has seen a growth in local sales.
“This is such an atypical year that we can’t really compare it to anything else”, museum communications director Begona Martinez Goyenaga said. “We are reasonably happy, in that, while we are at 25 percent capacity compared to last year, we have kept the interest of the local public, of course the proportion of locals has increased drastically. Logically, we have far less foreigners due to travel difficulties, but given the circumstances we are fairly content.”
Spain has reported 936,560 coronavirus cases - the highest in Western Europe - and 33,775 deaths.
Its tourism-dependent economy is set for a more than 11 percent contraction this year in the worst recession since the civil war took place in the 1930s.