Northern Ireland’s outdoor museums will be first to reopen

The executive has no timetable for its coronavirus recovery plan but hopes to reach the final stage by December
Covid-19 Reopening
Jonathan Knott
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Open-air museums in Northern Ireland will be the first in the nation to reopen under the coronavirus recovery plan published by the executive.

The roadmap to lifting lockdown restrictions has five-stages, but does not include a firm timetable or any indicative dates. First minister Arlene Foster said yesterday that she hoped the final stage would be reached by December.

Open-air museums will reopen in step two of the plan, at the same time as selected libraries running restricted services.
The nation’s outdoor museums include Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh and Ulster Folk Museum in Cultra. Both are part of National Museums Northern Ireland.

Other museums and galleries will reopen in step three, alongside libraries in general. This stage will also see the resumption of concert and theatre rehearsals, and training for team sports on a non-contact basis.

Stages have also been set out for other parts of the economy, but the executive says different sectors may progress to each stage at different times. The government will decide when to relax restrictions based on evidence and analysis, the capacity of health and social care services, and assessment of the wider impacts on health, society and the economy.

The executive says it is working closely with other UK nations and the Irish government to ensure a co-operative approach, but adds that there may be some differences of approach.

The Northern Irish recovery plan says “it is anticipated that the approach to be taken as the restrictions are relaxed will continue to be based on common principles across these islands, although there may be times when there are nuanced differences of approach as a result of the circumstances in differing jurisdictions or of the timing of decision-making”.

Under the recovery plan published by the UK government, museums and other cultural venues in England will open no earlier than 4 July.

An online Museums Association members’ meeting for Northern Ireland will be held on 10 June.

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