Reopening Checklist – FAQs

This page was last reviewed on 07 April 2021. Do consult NMDC guidance for the latest information too.

What do we HAVE to do before reopening?
Every museum must carry out risk assessments to show how they will manage the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to provide a safe environment for staff, volunteers and the public. The solutions to this will depend on the circumstances, layout etc of your museum.

Section 6 of the Guidelines  provides a range of practical advice on the steps that you might want to consider to create a safe and secure environment.

How do we support collecting data for NHS Test and Trace?
It is now mandatory for museums and galleries

  • to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data
  • to ask all customers and visitors to provide these details
  • to retain these details for 21 days.

Museums and galleries must display an official NHS QR code poster – which can be downloaded to display as a poster in your venue. Using the NHS COVID-19 App customers and visitors will be able to scan the QR code as an optional alternative to providing contact details. From 29 March 2021, every customer or visitor should be asked to scan the NHS QR code or provide their name and contact details for Test and Trace, not just a lead member in a group.

Test and Trace and museum cafés and restaurants
Hospitality venues, including cafés and restaurants in museums, are required to refuse entry to those who do not provide relevant Test and Trace contact details, or check in with the NHS app.

Click here to create your downloadable QR code poster>>

You can also download and print Test and Trace explainer posters for use on site here>>

Further UK Government Guidance on Test and Trace is available here>>

Rule of 6
There is a legal requirement to ensure compliance with the rule of six and ensure appropriate social distancing through signage, layout, ventilation and entry numbers management.

What’s the latest position on Group Tours?
Guided tours of up to 30 people are allowed, as long as the rule of 6 is obeyed, that is, each group must consist of no more than 6 people (unless it is a family group or supportive bubble).  In practice this means that social distancing has to be respected at all times between groups – so that if someone is in a group of (up to) 6 people, they have to stick with that group all the time, and can’t join another group, or mingle with other individuals or groups. And within that group of 6, social distancing rules must be respected if the people in it are not from the same household or support bubble. For further information check NMDC’s updated museum reopening guidance.

What are our legal responsibilities?
The legal framework for operating during the pandemic is set by government – Coronavirus Act (2020) and (in England) The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.

Beyond this, we continue to operate under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and any new practices designed to prevent Covid 19 infection should be made in accordance with your Health and Safety Policy and a risk assessment framework.

You must also ensure that any changes you make continue to comply with the Equality Act (2010) and do not disadvantage disabled people in comparison with non-disabled people (and that you are making reasonable adjustments).

How can we welcome volunteers back to the workplace safely?
This is covered in 3.1 of the Guidelines. Volunteers should only return to their roles in the museum if:

a) The correct legal framework is in place for reopening museums (Principle 1) and, where applicable, you follow current advice on protecting people who are at higher risk (this applies to paid staff and volunteers).

b) Volunteer activities and roles have been risk assessed and any mitigating measures – e.g. adaption to workspaces, training, enhanced hygiene practices are in place to ensure that they can carry out their volunteer work safely.

c) They are willing to return. Volunteers can decide whether they wish to return, and they should be included in consultation, training and communications about reopening.

d) Provision is made for maintaining volunteer wellbeing (including for those who may not be able to return).

What should we do about PPE (protective personal equipment)?
The Guidelines covers this under Section 5.

Where you are already using PPE at work for non-Covid specific risks you should continue to do so.

The Guidelines state that the risks of Covid 19 should firstly be managed through social distancing, hygiene and working in fixed teams before PPE is considered. It also covers when PPE may be useful when a high risk of Covid 19 transmission has been identified (e.g. for first aiders). The need for any PPE to reduce the risk of Covid transmission should be identified in your risk assessments.

What about face coverings?
Face coverings are now mandatory for customers and staff in indoor hospitality (except when seated at a table to eat or drink) and for staff in retail settings – this includes restaurants, cafes and shops within museums. There is also a legal requirement to remind customers of the need to wear face coverings where they are already required, unless exempt, through e.g. prominent signage and/or verbal reminders.  Additional guidance on face coverings is available in Section 5 of the Guidelines. Government guidance on face coverings is also available.

How can we manage social distancing?
The Guidelines state that we should maintain social distancing, where possible. Refer to section 3.4 for more information. Ways of maintaining social distancing at your museum include:
• putting up signs to remind workers and visitors of social distancing guidance
• avoiding sharing workstations
• using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people keep social distance
• arranging one-way traffic through the workplace or museum space if possible
• use staff or volunteers to manage visitor flow in pinch point areas such as toilets

In circumstances where you cannot maintain social distancing, you can manage transmission risk (include this in your risk assessment) by measures including:

• considering whether to continue to perform the activity
• keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
• using screens or barriers to separate people from each other (NB there is no specification for these, they just need to form an effective barrier against coughs, sneezes etc.)
• using back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible
• staggering arrival and departure times for staff, volunteers and visitors
• reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’, this could also include keeping visitors in family groups.

How can we best manage visitor numbers? Do we need a ticketing system?
Social distancing is covered in 3.4 of the Guidelines. It is recognised that museums may not be able to accommodate their normal visitor capacity. Check what your building capacity is for fire regulations, or use social distancing rules.

The Guidelines  include practical ideas on managing visitor numbers in your museum effectively. This could include introducing timed tickets to avoid queues and breaching capacity in the museum. Consider using the systems you may already have in place for events and activities – from a phone booking system, to free use of Eventbrite through to specialist booking system software. Look at AIM Supplier’s Directory for examples.

Hospitality – Cafes and restaurants within museums and galleries
Food or drink for consumption on the premises can only be served to customers sitting at a table. Businesses selling food or drink, cafes, and restaurants within museums and galleries must close at 10pm.

I can’t find the exact answer to my question about reopening!
No guidance can possibly cover all the issues or considerations and challenges reopening might raise, but the Guidelines do include a wide range of scenarios. More detailed guidance and signposting to other resources on specific topics (for example the South East Museum Development Reopening Toolkit and examples of how other museums are tackling issues will be held by your Museum Development team, so do check out their website resources and get in touch.

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