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Alcatraz reopens for indoor tours for first time since the pandemic

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Alcatraz, the historic US island prison off San Francisco, opened to the public on Monday for a limited number of indoor tours, which had been off-limits for more than a year due to the pandemic.

Access to the infamous cell house, known for its notorious inmates including Machine Gun Kelly and Al Capone, will be limited to visitors who sign up for the audio tour in advance and social distancing measures will be in place.

The safety modifications made throughout the island including social distancing markers, increased cleanings and hand sanitizing stations.

Those on the island are also required to wear face masks.

Laura Joss, general superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which oversees the landmark, said last week: “It is my pleasure to begin welcoming visitors back to Alcatraz Island.

“We have been working closely with our public health partners to align our operations with local guidance and provide access to the island for the first time this year.”

“We expect everyone to follow CDC guidance, wear a mask, and give each other space to safely enjoy their experience at this iconic site,” she said.

Outdoor attractions on the island will also be open, including Eagle Plaza, Sally Port, the recreation yard and historic gardens, although the Agave Trail is closed due to sensitive bird nesting.

Ferries to Alcatraz are operating at 25 per cent capacity, carrying about 150 passengers instead of the usual 600 and food service will not be available on the ferries or on the island.

Alcatraz opened in August for outdoor-only options in an effort to reduce the risk of spreading Covid. However, it shut down again in December amid another round of lockdowns in the state.

During its peak, Alcatraz usually hosts up to 5,000 tourists a day. For now, that number will be reduced to about a thousand.

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