Organisational and employment FAQs - Museums Association

Organisational and employment FAQs

Information correct at 6 January 2022

We are working in close partnership with other sector bodies to make the case for urgent and practical help to the museums sector and those who work in and with museums.

We are providing advice to the sector on this page and will continue to update the contents as the situation develops – if you have further questions or want to help us to improve this advice, please get in touch via info@museumsassociation.org.

1. Can my museum open to the public?

In England, as of December 2021, all museums are allowed to open, but must ensure that Covid guidance is followed. This includes:

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.

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
  • Any event with more than 10,000 people

Further advice on how to open in a Covid-secure way is available via the official guidance from the Government and the National Museums Directors’ Council.

In Scotland, as of December 2021, museums, galleries and other visitor attractions must ensure a minimum one metre physical distancing between adults in all indoor settings. This requirement is in addition to the existing regulations:

  • Face coverings must be worn in indoor visitor attractions, except for specific exemptions
  • You should gather contact details for visitors consuming food and drink on the premises for the purposes of track and protect. One of the simplest ways to do this is to use a QR code poster compatible with the Check In Scotland app

Further advice on how to open in a Covid-secure way is available via the official guidance from Museums Galleries Scotland.

In Wales, museums are allowed to open. However, the Welsh Government has introduced guidance in December 2021 in response to the Omicron variant. The key points of the guidance are:

  1. Businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus. From 26 December all businesses will be required to put in place measures to maintain 2m social distancing, which could include measures such as physical barriers and one-way systems.
  2. Everyone must self-isolate for 7 days if they test positive for Covid-19. You should take a Lateral Flow Device Test (LFD) on day 6 and day 7. If either LFD is positive, you should remain in isolation until 2 negative LFDs or after day 10, whichever is sooner. The rules for close contact of someone who has tested positive are in the self-isolation guidance.
  3. Everyone aged 11 and over must continue to wear face-coverings in indoor public places, including in hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs or cafes where they should be worn except when seated.
  4. From 20 December people must work from home where reasonably practicable for them to do so. Employers must allow or require their employees to work from home unless there is a clear business or well-being need that would make working from home impractical, in line with their duties to take reasonable measures.
  5. From 26 December organised events and gatherings must not take place for more than 30 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Professional sporting events can take place but no more than 30 people indoors or 50 outdoors may attend, not counting those working or providing voluntary services at the event.
  6. From 26 December, licenced premises must ensure there is physical distancing between individual households or groups of up to six people from a maximum of six households (not including children under 11 from any of those households or carers of anyone present) at their premises and must provide table service only.

Further advice on how to open in a Covid-secure way is available via the official guidance from the Welsh Government.

In Northern Ireland, outdoor and indoor visitor attractions are permitted to open and are subject to the requirements on gatherings to determine the maximum numbers permitted access.

Museums are required by law to provide proof of Covid-19 status before entry.

People must wear a face covering when entering any indoor public space, unless exempt.

Venues will be required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.

Customer details will include the:

  • Name and telephone number of visitors over the age of 16
  • Date and time of arrival

Further advice on how to open in a Covid-secure way is available via the official guidance from the Northern Irish Government.

2. How do I access financial support for my museum?

In July 2020, the UK government announced a £1.57 billion Culture Recovery package intended to support culture and the arts to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus. This package has been topped up in early 2021 with a further £300m for the Culture Recovery Fund in England, £90m for national museums and £77m for spending by devolved administrations.

In December 2021, the UK government provided £30m of additional funding to the scheme in England (with consequential funding for devolved nations) in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.

In England, the CRF is open for new applications until 4 February 2022, with a deadline for permission to apply requests of 12pm on 18 January. For updates on the CRF, check the dedicated ACE site.

Under the CRF rounds to date, non-national accredited museums and museums working towards accreditation have been able to apply for grant funding of £25,000 to £3m via Arts Council England and non-accredited museums were able to apply for funding via the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Repayable loans of over £3m were available to larger museums in England from Arts Council England. They can be used to cover organisational costs incurred up to 31 March 2022 and will be repayable on loan terms including a payment term of up to 20 years, an initial repayment holiday of up to four years and a 2% interest rate per annum. During the four-year repayment holiday, loans will accrue interest on a six-monthly basis.

Capital funding has been made available in England to cover additional Covid-related costs incurred by ongoing capital projects in cultural organisations. Arts Council England’s Capital Kickstart Fund provided £55m of funding to get capital projects moving again. There are further capital funds available from Historic England (for heritage sites) and from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (a closed fund for existing grantees).

In Scotland, Museums Galleries Scotland has launched a number of funding streams for the sector. Up-to-date information is available via the MGS website.

In Wales, independent and local museums are eligible for funding through the Welsh Cultural Recovery Fund, while galleries are eligible for funding from the Arts Council of Wales.

In December 2021, the Welsh Government introduced the Cultural Winter Stability Fund, which consists of £5.25m to assist Wales’ independent museums, independent and community libraries, and independent cinemas through the winter months. The purpose of this fund is to support organisations that are in genuine difficulty – at risk of closure or that jobs will be lost – unless further support is provided. This risk must be as a direct result of the ongoing impact of Covid-19. The fund will accept applications up to a maximum of £100,000 which will cover the period from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. It opens for applications on 12 January and closes on 26 January 2022.

3. How do I access government support to pay my staff?

The furlough scheme (Job Retention Scheme) has now closed, and there is no longer a specific government scheme to support wages during the crisis.

4. My museum runs grant-funded programmes. What should I do about these?

Many grant funders have responded to the crisis quickly and are keen to show flexibility in the terms of existing grants. We recommend that you get in touch with your individual grant provider to discuss any changes that may be required.

5. What support is there to maintain and secure museum sites and collections?

Every museum should have an emergency plan to secure sites and collections. This should be enacted during periods of lockdown or where normal procedures are not possible.

Accreditation bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have clarified how the Accreditation Scheme and Government Indemnity Scheme will continue to run during this time.

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