Frustration in Northern Ireland and Wales over lack of detail on reopening - Museums Association

Frustration in Northern Ireland and Wales over lack of detail on reopening

Call for ‘indicative dates’ to allow businesses more time to plan
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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There is frustration in Wales over the lack of specific timings for when the heritage sector can reopen. Pictured: Castell Caerffili/Caerphilly Castle
There is frustration in Wales over the lack of specific timings for when the heritage sector can reopen. Pictured: Castell Caerffili/Caerphilly Castle VisitWales

Stakeholders in Northern Ireland and Wales have expressed frustration over the lack of information on reopening plans for the two nations.

The Welsh Government eased lockdown restrictions over the weekend, allowing some outdoor historic places and gardens to reopen, as well as libraries and archive services. More outdoor attractions will be able to open following the government's next review of restrictions, on 22 April, if the data allows.

But unlike in England and Scotland, the government has not yet given firm dates for when indoor museums in Wales can reopen, leaving institutions unable to plan ahead.

Museum professionals have expressed frustration at the lack of clarity in the roadmap, saying they need time to plan rather than having to prepare for reopening at short notice. There are also concerns about the impact that the lack of certainty is having on the wellbeing of furloughed staff.

First minister Mark Drakeford said last week: “The pandemic is not over – spring and summer give us hope of more freedom, as rates of infection fall and more people are vaccinated. But we need to be careful – we can’t rush the process of relaxing restrictions and risk a resurgence of the virus.”

There are similar concerns in Northern Ireland, where the executive has said it will be led by “data, not dates” in its five-step plan to end the lockdown.

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Business leaders in the nation have urged ministers to provide “indicative dates” for reopening, saying the lack of specific timings has left them unable to plan for the future.

The executive plans to relax its stay-at-home message from 12 April, subject to review.

Comments (1)

  1. Jonathan Gammond says:

    When non-essential shops are allowed to reopen from April 12th, likewise close contact services, it is frustrating that non-contact activities in museums, traditionally known as wandering around a gallery and occasionally stopping to look at something (before heading to the cafe) is still out of bounds. Gyms, leisure centres and fitness studios can reopen on May 17th; however exercising the mind doesn’t get a mention. You can sweat and breathe out as heavily as you want in a gym, just not in a museum near a painting or a display case. Not that we would want anyone perspiring heavily in our galleries as it would effect the RH readings.

    I just hope we don’t have the reoccurrence of the bizarre situation we had last autumn where people could enter our museum, sit down, take off their masks and have a meal or a cup of coffee; but they weren’t allowed to enter the next room, even wearing a mask, on their own, to look around the gallery displays.

    Museums across Wales (as elsewhere in the UK) made so much effort to make their venues covid secure and staff put a lot of effort into ensuring people stuck to the rules for everyone’s benefit, so we should not be overlooked, which I am hoping is the case rather than a deliberate policy. We have to get people back into the habit of visiting museums since everyone has gone outdoorsy for obvious reasons over the past year. That will take time enough. No one wishes to reopen before it is safe, but nor do we wish to be held back while less safe venues and activities get priority.

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