Museum sector bodies have raised concerns about significant changes to the requirements for the UK Government’s NHS Test and Trace programme, which institutions in England will have to comply with when they reopen in May.
The changes in procedure mean that all members of a visitor group age 16 and over will be obliged to provide their contact details; previously just one member was permitted do so on behalf of a group.
Cafes within museums will also be obliged to ask each group member for contact details, even where these have already been collected by the museum upon entry.
Museums are concerned that the new requirements will create an additional barrier to visitors as the country moves out of lockdown, and could slow down operations as every person is checked and required to provide details.
There already misgivings in the sector about the possibility of a Covid passport scheme, which is currently under consideration by the government.
Museums Association (MA) policy manager Alistair Brown said: “The MA is concerned about the recent changes to the Test and Trace scheme – particularly the requirement for every member of a party to register with the scheme.
“This has the potential to really slow down operations at museums as every visitor is checked and required to provide details. It seems likely that this will cause unnecessary crowding at entrances for some museums, as well as additional paperwork for those museums that aren’t using a digital system.
“Our concern is that this is one of a number of additional barriers to visitation as we exit lockdown, and we are continuing to make the case to government to make museum visits as easy as possible within public health requirements.”
Contact details can be submitted via a number of methods, such as checking in with the NHS Test and Trace app, scanning a QR code or using pen and paper. Museums will have to maintain the records for 21 days.