Concern among museums over more stringent Test and Trace requirements - Museums Association

Concern among museums over more stringent Test and Trace requirements

Venues in England obliged to collect contact details for every visitor age 16 and over
Covid-19 Reopening
Profile image for Geraldine Kendall Adams
Geraldine Kendall Adams
Visitors can submit their details via the NHS Test and Trace app
Visitors can submit their details via the NHS Test and Trace app

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.

Comments (2)

  1. Nat Edwards says:

    There’s a subtle line between being good citizens and becoming co-opted agents of the state – but this is an exponential change in our obligation. To ask every single visitor over the age of 16 to register their personal data is more than just a logistical nightmare (although it is). I can think of so many reasons why people would not want to comply – some may perhaps be more legitimate than others (but we are not the moral guardians of our public) and some may relate directly to protected characteristics and open us up to legal discrimination challenges. I’ve always loved the fact that museums are democratic spaces, where ordinary people can enjoy their shared heritage and stories without having to qualify or justify being there. This feels an undemocratic and retrograde step.

  2. Jason Finch says:

    I am getting very concerned that the museum sector seems to be forgetting we are in a pandemic, one where new variants are emerging that could prove immune to vaccines or at least more resistant to them than earlier versions of Covid, and is focusing on complaining about what are going to be short-term measures that will allow us to have some sort of life again because they might be a bit of an inconvenience to people and museum staff. Pubs and the like will have to do the same, so why not museums? I mean, the number of times when entering a museum I have been asked to sign up for gift aid, or join this mailing list or that before I got through the door, being asked to supply information to help ensure we do eliminated the threat of Covid isn’t going to add to the time or barriers to me getting in. I’ll have to do this when I go to the pub or cafe, or cinema, I’ll do it when I go to the museum.

    I am also worried the more those who speak for the museum sector complain about measures like this, the more the sector is going to be used by anti-vac types and other idiots who deny Covid is real to support their lies. It’s time the MA and other sector bodies paused, took a look at their statements and think are they doing more harm than good by always objecting to these Covid-related measures-frankly I think more harm is being done.

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