Pope Francis inaugurated the full reopening of St Peter’s Basilica on Monday, after it was closed on March 10 in a bid to contain a virus that has killed more than 32,000 people in Italy.

Red stickers in English and Italian and yellow lines told those entering that they had to keep at least two metres apart, wear masks and sanitise their hands.

Visitors had their temperature checked before entering.

“I share the joy of those communities who can finally reunite as liturgical assemblies, a sign of hope for all society,” Pope Francis said on Sunday during his live-streamed prayer.

In the face of much opposition, including from the pontiff, churches in Rome were shuttered at the beginning of the coronavirus emergency in early March.

Most, however, opened shortly thereafter, with entry reserved for prayer only.

Pope Francis is not yet expected to lead any public religious ceremonies either in the basilica, which can accommodate 60,000 people, or in Saint Peter’s Square, as the Vatican seeks to avoid crowds.

However, Francis celebrated a private mass on Monday, broadcast by video, in front of the tomb of John Paul II, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Polish-born pontiff.

Meanwhile in Milan, the city’s famed Duomo cathedral conducted its first mass in months at 11:30 am.

On Friday, the cathedral said it had introduced gadgets worn around the neck that beep softly, flash and vibrate if visitors become to close to one another.

Meanwhile, Italians enjoyed other simple pleasures on Monday, as restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and hairdressers, among other businesses, reopened.