Reopening Checklist – FAQs

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’>>

Update 18 August 2021

What measures changed on July 19 2021?

A number of measures changed on 19 July as England moved to Step 4 of the roadmap, including:

Social distancing

  • All remaining limits on social contact (currently 6 people or 2 households indoors, or 30 people outdoors) are removed and there are no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.
  • All settings can open. Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.
  • Social distancing rules (2 metres or 1 metre with additional mitigations) are lifted. You should continue to consider the risks of close contact with others, particularly if you are clinically extremely vulnerable or not yet fully vaccinated.

Face coverings

  • The legal requirements to wear a face covering is lifted in all settings in England.
  • Face coverings are still required in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Wearing a face covering will reduce your risk and the risk to others, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.

Test and Trace no longer a legal requirement

  • Businesses are encouraged to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, to support NHS Test and Trace, although it is no longer be a legal requirement in England.
  • (Official NHS QR codes can be downloaded to display as a poster which visitors can scan with the NHS App as an optional alternative to providing contact details. 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>>)

Life events such as weddings

  • All restrictions on life events such as weddings, funerals, bar/bat mitzvahs and baptisms are removed, including the restrictions on the number of attendees. There is no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing.


  • COVID-status certification is not required in law as condition of entry to any setting at present.
  • The NHS COVID Pass on the NHS app demonstrates a person’s covid-status.
  • The government is planning that by the end of September, when all over 18s will have had the chance to be double jabbed, full vaccination will be the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.

Working from home

  • Whilst the Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, the Government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer


  • Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work, and should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the setting.
  • Businesses are encouraged to ask staff and customers to clean their hands regularly and clean surfaces that people touch regularly.


  • Regulations that place COVID-secure requirements on businesses, including table service, and distancing between tables, are lifted.

Working safely during Coronavirus – updated step 4 guidance: 

In Wales , Scotland and Northern Ireland different rules apply:

  • Northern Ireland: reviewed its measures on 22 July. Click here for more>>
  • Wales: reviewed its measures on 15 July. Click here for more>>
  • Scotland: moved to  a modified level zero of Covid restrictions on 19 July, however mandatory use of face coverings is to remain in place for a period, with all final legal restrictions lifted by 9 August. Click here for more>>

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. Checklist point 2 considers risk assessment and 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.

What are our legal responsibilities?
The legal framework for operating during the pandemic is currently 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). UK gov has produced related advice: Enabling safe and effective volunteering>>

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.

Back to Museum Reopening Checklist start page>>