Welsh open-air museums could see early exit from lockdown
Jonathan Knott, 20.05.2020
Outdoor museums may be able reopen in the first stage of lifting restrictions if they can ensure social distancing
Outdoor museums in Wales may be able to reopen in the first stage of relaxing the nation's coronavirus lockdown under the exit plan published by the devolved government.
Unlocking our Society and Economy sets out red, amber and green stages of lifting lockdown measures for different sectors. It says the country is now “carefully and slowly” moving into the red stage.
For the culture and leisure sector, this stage will involve opening open-air cultural sites. Wales has a number of open-air museums, such as St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff, which is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (NMW).
A Welsh government spokeswoman said outdoor museums like St Fagans will be able to reopen in the red stage “if the science and medical advice at that stage supports opening and the site can comply with social distancing measures”.
NMW said its seven museum sites and its collections centre would remain closed until it was safe to open them again. There is no date set for reopening as of yet.
A statement from the institution said: "We are working with [the Welsh government's] phased framework, not a date, in our planning for reopening of our museums including St Fagans National Museum of History. We continue to work to ensure they will be safe spaces for staff and visitors with guidance on social distancing adhered to and visitor capacity managed, when the time comes.
“Over the last few weeks, we have been reviewing our role as a national museum for Wales and how we can best support communities through these challenging times. We have launched a new public appeal and a mass digital observation project that will collect the experiences of living in Wales during this extraordinary time of Covid-19. People are encouraged to share their experiences with us on the Amgueddfa Cymru website.”
More Welsh cultural and leisure sites, including museums and galleries, will reopen in the amber stage of the plan. But the Welsh government says a “blanket opening” of all museums and galleries is unlikely.
“Each museum and gallery will be considered on an individual basis and they must comply with social distancing measures,” said the government spokeswoman.
In the green stage, all sports, leisure and cultural activities will reopen with physical distancing in place, and events will resume “with limited capacity”.
The government has not indicated specific dates for reaching each stage of the plan. It says a key consideration will be keeping the R rate of transmitting the virus below one, which would prevent an exponential increase in cases.
Similar colour-coded stages are set out for other sectors, but these will be under constant review and it is unlikely the country will progress between them “across the board at the same time”.
“It is possible that we could move more quickly in some areas than others as the evidence changes and we understand more about the risks and how they can be managed in different settings,” says the document. “Similarly, we may need to reverse course in some areas should conditions worsen.”
The administration says its approach is consistent with other plans across the UK and that “we are continuing to work collectively on a four-nations basis wherever possible”.
Wales’ movement through the stages will be informed by the UK’s new alert system for monitoring the coronavirus threat.
The government says the steps in its plan represent broad phases and are not intended to be exhaustive. It is currently consulting with stakeholders, including those in the cultural and tourism sectors, to develop specific details.
The UK government has said museums in England will reopen no earlier than 4 July.
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