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National History Museum reopens cautiously with new rules | 05 June 2020

National History Museum reopens cautiously with new rules

Information and ticketing desks are going to be protected by Plexiglas to block virus-containing droplets released by coughing, sneezing and speaking (Photo: Thomas Meriton)

Although the government has mandated ground rules for hygiene and social distancing, it has largely been up to the institutions to iron out the details.

For museum director, Beryl Ondiek, this involves balancing public safety against the desire to allow people to freely engage with art, and for visitors this means navigating a patchwork of new rules.

Speaking to the press yesterday morning, Mrs Ondiek noted that the health and safety of visitors and staff remain a top priority for the department of culture which oversees the museum.

“Due to the current health emergency situation, the National History Museums is ensuring a very careful balance between safety and health needs and the dynamics of a museum visit, without compromising the essence of such a visit,” she said.

In keeping with the norms of hygiene and physical distancing, the museum will place a cap on the number of people – 25 – allowed inside at one time, sanitiser stations have also been placed throughout the building and additional cleaning stations have been created.

Information and ticketing desks are going to be protected by Plexiglas to block virus-containing droplets released by coughing, sneezing and speaking. Museum staff in these positions interact with dozens of visitors during their shifts, making them particularly vulnerable. Visitors walking into the museum will also have to sanitise their hands.

The museum will also be using various signs to remind visitors to maintain a certain distance from one another as well as place markings on the floor to enforce the social distancing regulations.

With tourism at a standstill, however, many museums are anticipating lower-than-usual visitor numbers. That is likely to help social distancing, but it also means that spaces that depend significantly on international guests face an uncertain financial future.

“Since we reopened on Monday we have seen that we will not have the same number of visitors that we used to have pre-COVID19,” said Mrs Ondiek.

She added to this by saying that on their first week they drew in only four customers compared to the pre-COVID-19 days where the museum would receive an average of 200-300 visitors.

 

Christophe Zialor

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