Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Art Galleries and Museums to reopen - with covid secure measures

This lunchtime it was announced that Art Galleries and Museums can reopen from 4th July 2020. However they will have to comply with ongoing requirements for social distancing for interiors.

At the same time the social distancing rule will be limited to something called "one metre plus" which seems to mean a minimum of one metre if two metres is not possible but try and do more than one metre.

The British Gallery in the National Gallery of Art

Art Galleries and Museums in London

Most of the larger arts venues fall under "step three" of the official lockdown plan. Step three relates to all those which are seen as "higher-risk businesses" either:
  • because they involve crowds of people in close proximity
  • or because it's know there is a much greater threat of Covid-19 transmission within enclosed spaces
Hence they were told that they could not legally re-open before July 4 - but that to be confirmed and today it has.

The Directors of the Tate, Science Museum Group, the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery, the British Museum and the V&A welcomed the news and issued a joint statement which said
“The British public have faced a wretched few months of isolation, loss and anxiety in confronting the Covid-19 pandemic,” they said. “The reopening of museums – whose galleries speak to the creative, resilient power of the human spirit – will provide solace and inspiration as Britain looks to the future.

All the following closed on 18 March 2020 and have now been closed for over three months.

Covid-secure measures

It's expected that it will be mandatory that all public spaces inside MUST follow they follow guidance to ensure they are "Covid secure"

The type of measures we can expect to see when the art galleries and museums reopen are:
  • minimise face-to-face contact by requiring customers to pre-book tickets, 
  • require the public to stand in spaced queues and to enter and leave through different areas. 
  • erect screen to minimise the risk to staff 
  • staff wear face visors
  • improve ventilation systems where these are problematic and/or fail health and safety tests re. circulation of Covid19 laden air.

Why no announcements?

It's been clear that moves were afoot to reopen art galleries and museums since the Director of the National Gallery returned and did a short video from inside the National Gallery a couple of weeks back.

As a result I'm really VERY surprised that nobody had their Press Releases sorted in advanced and ready to go when the Government announced the changes.

I'm wondering what's going on which means that none to date have actually announced they are reopening. I'm guessing representations are being made about money re. loss of income and the additional costs of reopening.

Tate Galleries - closed until further notice - or 4th July???

There is nothing on the websites of the following - which is surprising given they've known this has been coming for some time.
  • British Museum
  • National Gallery 
  • Tate Britain / Tate Modern
  • Victoria and Albert
  • Royal Academy of Arts - but they at least have announced changes to exhibitions for 2020/21 (see NOT The Summer Exhibition)
  • Wallace Collection
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery

Temporary Closures beyond 4th July 2020

Food and Drink

The hospitality side of the galleries and museums should also reopen BUT they are presumably under the same constraints as all other venues inside providing food and drink i.e. if you enter you must give your name and address for contacting.

Smaller commercial art galleries were successful in getting recategorised as non-essential retail and hence were allowed to open earlier - but have adopted an approach of "appointments only" + strictly limited numbers at any one time.

NOTE: Theatres and concert halls are able to reopen from July 4 but not for live performances. What do you do if not have a live performance? Show films?  I think this may come within the following
Permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.

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