Latest news and guidance

The latest news and guidance relating to Covid restrictions / reopening and the latest government support for museums.

This page was last updated on 20 January 2022

Update 20 January 2022

The government has announced that the measures put in place under Plan B in England will be lifted.


  • It is important to continue with all the cautious behaviours that help to keep everybody safe
  • washing hands
  • letting fresh air in
  • getting tested
  • self-isolating if positive
  • and thinking about wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings.


  • From the start of Thursday next week (27 January) mandatory certification will end.
  • Organisations can choose to use the NHS Covid Pass voluntarily but the government will end the compulsory use of Covid status certification in England.

Working from home

  • From now on, the government is no longer asking people to work from home and people should now speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office.

Face coverings

  • From 27 January, once regulations lapse, the government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks in indoor settings.
  • The government will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded places, particularly where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet.


  • It is still a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid to self-isolate.
  • The isolation period was reduced on Monday to five full days with two negative tests.
  • The self-isolation regulations expire on 24th March, at which point the government expects not to renew them.

Click here for the latest guidance on>>

Update 17 January 2022

Museums Capital Resilience Fund – Scotland

The Scottish Government has allocated £1 million of capital funding to develop resilience in Scotland’s museums. The funds will support capital costs that directly increase the resilience of museums, either by increasing income, reducing costs or both.

Grants between £3,000 and £75,000 will be available although the maximum award that non-accredited museums will be able to apply for is capped at £20,000. Funds must be spent by 31 March 2022.

The submission deadline for this funding will be 5pm on Monday 14 February 2022, however please note that all applicants should contact MGS regarding their proposed applications no later than 5pm on Friday 4 February 2022.

Click here for more information>>

Recovery Capacity Fund – Scotland

This fund will support independent museums most at risk from the financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further details about this fund will be available shortly.

Covid-19 recovery funding for organisations and individuals in Northern Ireland

  • Covid recovery programme for heritage organisations – aims to reduce or remove heritage organisations’ financial operating deficits which have arisen as a result of the pandemic in the 2021-2022 financial year. Closing date Friday 21 January.
  • Covid recovery programme for heritage individuals – will provide support to self-employed and freelance individuals working across the heritage sector. This could include conservators, builders, craftworkers and tour guides. Closing date Friday 28 January.

Click here to find out more>>

Culture Recovery Fund 3 – Wales

The previously announced Winter Stability Fund has been merged now with the Cultural Recovery Fund.  Arts Council Wales will be administering the fund for the arts sector, and applications from independent local museums (Accredited and working towards Accreditation) will now be administered by Welsh Government.

If you have had CRF funding in the past, you will receive a letter w/c 17 January inviting you to self-declare your eligibility.  There will also be a mechanism for those who did not receive CRF funding to apply.

Grant funding for businesses

Firms in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors, many of which have seen a decline in footfall and increased cancellations due to the Omicron variant, will be able to apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises depending on rateable value:

  • businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or above: £6,000
  • businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000: £4,000
  • businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or below: £2,667

In addition, more than £100 million worth of discretionary funding is also being made available for local authorities to support other businesses.

Click here for more details>>

Update 21 December 2021

The Chancellor has today announced additional support for business impacted by the Omicron variant.

  • £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter
  • Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses
  • Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK

Click here for the full news statement from the Chancellor>>

Culture Recovery Fund

Business grants

  • The government is providing one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.
  • Around 200,000 businesses will be eligible for business grants which will be administered by local authorities and will be available in the coming weeks.
  • Click here for more details on business grants>>

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate

  • The government is also reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS).
  • The SSPRS will help small and medium-sized employers – those with fewer than 250 employees – by reimbursing them for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences, for up to 2 weeks per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from today and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.
  • Click here for more details on the SSPRS>>

Click here for the full details of the COVID-19 economic support package>>

As part of this support announced today, the devolved administrations will receive around £150 million of funding through the Barnett formula, comprising around £80 million for the Scottish Government, £50 million for the Welsh Government and £25 million for the Northern Ireland Executive.

The Welsh government has announced £5.25 million for cultural organisations to remain stable over winter. Click here for more details on the support in Wales>>

Update 9 December 2021

England moves to Plan B in response to the risks of the Omicron variant.

  • Test using a lateral flow device, particularly before entering a high-risk setting involving people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person.

Work from home:

  • The government has reintroduced the guidance to work from home.

Face coverings:

  • Face coverings are compulsory in museums and galleries, and most public indoor venues.
  • There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating or drinking – face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.

Covid pass:

  • Museums and art galleries do not need to apply COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry in the normal course of business.
  • They may be required if you are holding an event where attendees are standing or moving around, and meets these criteria:
    • unseated indoor events with more than 500 people,
    • unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people
    • and any event with more than 10,000 people.
  • The NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained with two doses or a negative lateral flow test.
  • This will come into force on Wednesday 15 December.

Daily testing:

  • Daily tests will be introduced for contacts instead of isolation, to keep people safe while minimising the disruption to daily life.

Click here to see the government’s updated guidance in full>>

In Scotland rules include: 

  • People should isolate for 10 days – regardless of vaccination status or a negative test – if anyone in their household tests positive for Covid
  • If you’ve been in close contact with someone NOT in your household who’s tested positive, you should isolate and take a PCR test. If it’s negative, and you are double-vaccinated, you can leave isolation
  • People should think about postponing Christmas parties.
  • Face coverings still compulsory on public transport and inside places like shops and museums.
  • Indoor hospitality venues must collect customer contact details
  • Work from home where possible is in place until at least the middle of January
  • All over-18s required to prove their vaccine status or show a negative test at nightclubs and other venues
  • People are urged to take Lateral Flow Tests before mixing with other households.

Click here for the full update from Scotland>> 

The Welsh government has said Covid rules will now be reviewed every week

People are being urged to take lateral flow tests before going out – for example, shopping, or visiting others. You should also now wear a mask in pubs and restaurants when not eating or drinking.

Existing restrictions include:

  • NHS Covid Pass needed for entry to nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls and many other indoor and outdoor events
  • Working from home wherever possible
  • Compulsory face coverings in schools, on public transport, and in shops and hospitals.

Click here to see the full Welsh guidance>>

The Covid rules in Northern Ireland 

  • A limit of 30 people from different households mixing in homes
  • Face coverings compulsory in shops, indoor seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings
  • Post-primary pupils must wear a face covering inside school buildings, as well as on school transport. Staff are encouraged to wear masks in school areas where they can’t socially distance
  • Covid passport scheme for venues including nightclubs, bars and cinemas
  • Work from home wherever possible.

Click here for the rules in Northern Ireland>>

Update 30 November 2021

New measures introduced following emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK. 

  • Face coverings will be made compulsory in shops and on public transport in England from Tuesday 30 November.
  • Face coverings will be mandatory in museum shops.
  • They will not be mandatory in other areas of museums, and all hospitality settings exempt.
  • All international arrivals must take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
  • All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
  • Measures will be reviewed in three weeks time.

Update 15 September 2021

Covid-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 (issued 14 September 2021)

The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Autumn and Winter Plan 2021’ setting out plans for autumn and winter 2021/22 in England. It consists of Plan A, the preferred approach, and Plan B, the contingency measures.

Plan A – a comprehensive approach designed to steer the country through autumn and winter:

  • The Government will aim to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges, while ensuring the NHS does not come under unsustainable pressure, by:
    • Building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions: vaccines, antivirals and disease modifying therapeutics.
    • Identifying & isolating positive cases to limit transmission: Test, Trace & Isolate
    • Supporting the NHS & social care: managing pressures and recovering services
    • Advising people how to protect themselves and others: clear guidance & comms
    • Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border.

Plan B – contingency plan:

  • If the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the Government has prepared a Plan B for England. The Government hopes not to have to implement Plan B, but given the uncertainty, it is setting out details now so that the public and businesses know what to expect if further measures become necessary.
  • The Government’s Plan B prioritises measures which can help control transmission of the virus while seeking to minimise economic and social impacts. This includes:
    • Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously.
    • Introducing mandatory vaccine-only covid-status certification in certain settings.
    • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.
    • Mandatory Vaccine-only COVID-status Certification Settings
  • To help businesses prepare, the Government will shortly publish more detail about the proposed certification regime that would be introduced as part of Plan B, and would seek to give at least one week’s notice before mandatory vaccine certification came into force.
  • Mandatory vaccine-only certification would be introduced for visitors to these venues:
    • All nightclubs;
    • Indoor, crowded settings with 500 or more attendees where they’re in close proximity to people from other households, e.g. music venues, large receptions;
    • Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees where they are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as outdoor festivals; and
    • Any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.

Click here to read the full ‘COVID-19 Response – Autumn and Winter Plan 2021’>>

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