Museums and galleries in England are preparing to open their doors to the public after temporarily closing when the UK entered lockdown in March.
As part of the government’s relaxation of lockdown rules, museums, galleries and heritage sites will be able to reopen from 4 July in England, but new safety measures will be in place to keep both staff and visitors safe.
Guidance published from the Government on 25 June outlines how museums and galleries, alongside heritage attractions and historic buildings, can begin to reopen to the public, “paving the way for an economic boost to the sectors”.
Here’s what you need to know.
What will be different at museums and galleries?
The guidance explains that at museums:
- Timed tickets may need to be pre-booked to reduce the number of people entering an exhibition or site at one time.
- Clearly communicated one way routes and spaced queuing systems may be introduced to manage the flow of visitors.
- Regular cleaning regimes should be intensified during the day and beyond opening hours.Access to audio guides may need to be reviewed, with museums considering new formats for the content such as apps that can be accessed on personal devices or quarantine periods for public handsets.
- Specialist training may need to be provided for roles impacted by the new guidance, for example Front of House staff managing new operating conditions or for roles where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
- Shops and cafes will need to reopen in line with guidance for food businesses and retail spaces and should encourage visitors to pay via contactless methods where possible.
What will be different at heritage sites?
The guidance explains that at heritage sites:
- One way systems, clear floor markings and a queue management system should be in place where needed to maintain social distancing measures at all attractions and help to limit contact between both staff and visitors.
- Organisations will encourage contactless payments throughout.
- Booking procedures should be reviewed and pre-booking could be introduced at heritage attractions to reduce the number of visitors in locations at the same time
‘The safe reopening of our galleries to the public’
Guidance for the heritage sector has been published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in collaboration with Historic England, and guidance for museums has been published by the National Museum Directors’ Council with DCMS support.
National Museum Directors Council Chair, Sir Ian Blatchford, said: “We welcome the guidance from DCMS to allow for the safe reopening of our galleries to the public and the collaborative spirit in which the museum guidelines were developed, drawing on expertise from colleagues across our sector.”
In regards to the heritage sector, Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said: “This guidance aims to help businesses in the heritage sector get back up and running in a way that is safe for workers, volunteers and visitors.”