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Introduction

This guidance offers high-level advice for organisations and individuals in Wales who manage culture and heritage destinations and venues that are open to the public. These include museums, art galleries, libraries, archives, historic buildings, historic gardens, ancient monuments, cinemas and arts venues, including concert halls and theatres.   

Wales, in common with the rest of the UK, introduced strict stay-at-home / social distancing and business and premises closure regulations at the end of March 2020. These regulations were intended to protect everyone from COVID-19 and to help the NHS. The ‘lockdown’ that these regulations introduced is unprecedented, but it is helping to control the spread of the virus and is ultimately saving lives.

The Welsh Government reviews COVID-19 regulations every 21 days and, on the basis of the latest available medical and scientific evidence, considers whether they need to stay in place or whether they can be eased. Guidance and a set of frequently asked questions are published to support any amendments. 

Emerging successfully from lockdown continues to require a vigorous approach to finding solutions that control and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as part of a collective effort towards managing risk. As the First Minister of Wales stated in Leading Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic - a framework for recovery, relaxing the lockdown should not cause further harm.

This guidance exists within a continuously changing legislative landscape and must be considered alongside existing guidance and regulations. 

This guidance provides organisations with a framework for decision making rather than a set of rules to follow, but they must be proactive in considering and implementing measures that will help to protect staff, volunteers, local communities and visitors. 

The Welsh Government recognises that the measures adopted by culture and heritage destinations and venues will need to be appropriate, scalable and take into consideration the nature of the destination or venue. For example, there will be very different considerations if a destination is predominantly outdoors compared to indoors, since the scientific evidence shows that the life of the virus is considered to be much shorter outdoors. 

Public confidence will be key in supporting a successful and commercially viable return to business. People may feel anxious about public gatherings, especially those that take place indoors, for some time yet. At the very least, plans for reopening will need to take public perceptions into account and a careful, coherent process of emerging from lockdown will be essential. 

Due consideration will also need to be given to the local community in which your organisation or venue exists and operates. Good communication and links with local communities will be key to increasing confidence and reassuring local residents that measures have been taken to minimise the spread of COVID-19. 

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has published guidance on options for councils supporting culture and leisure providers. It aims to update councils on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on leisure and culture providers operating services and facilities owned and delivered on behalf of councils. 

This information is the result of a continuing conversation between the Welsh Government and the culture and heritage sector. Early engagement with representatives of the sector has been essential to start planning a phased reopening of our culture and heritage destinations and venues. Working together, we formulated guidance for a phased return based on the Welsh Government’s ‘Unlocking our Society and Economy’ roadmap. A list of those who have been consulted as part of this process is provided in sector input.

This information should be considered as 'live information' which will be regularly updated as circumstances change. We will continue to work with stakeholders to identify where additional guidance may be helpful, especially with the phased easing of the restrictions.

Changes to the regulations and latest signalling

On 6 July 2020 travel restrictions requiring the public to stay local were lifted. Changes to the regulations during July has allowed the reopening of visitor attractions including cinemas, museums, galleries and archive services. Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes can reopen fully from 3 August.  However, all reasonable measures must be taken to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises and that other reasonable measures should be taken - for example to limit close face to face interaction and maintain hygiene. In addition, information must be provided to those entering or working at a premises about how to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus.

From the 3 August, outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people are allowed but physical and social distancing from people outside of a household or extended household is maintained. However for young children (those of primary school age or younger), it is less essential to attempt to rigidly maintain continual 2 metre distance between them, or between the children and any adults outside their household or extended household.

How to use this guidance

The purpose of this guidance is to set out practical considerations for reopening culture and heritage destinations and venues. It will help you to prepare for reopening, to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, and to identify actions you may be able to take to improve the safety of your staff, volunteers, and the visiting public.

The timing and extent of resuming activity, and reopening culture and heritage destinations and venues, will vary as we progress through the phases for moving out of lockdown.

'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications' are relevant to all culture and heritage destinations and venues in Wales. You should also review the section of this guidance that address your particular area of work, noting that more than one may be relevant.

In responding to this information, your plans should be proportionate. You should review your plans regularly, and adopt a careful, phased approach to reopening. Some venues may want to consider unlocking in layers, looking at their outdoor facilities initially and then moving to address indoor facilities. How you handle the process of reopening is up to you, but you must work within the COVID-19 regulations and clearly demonstrate a proactive approach to infection control. 

The Welsh Government recognises that operators need to be confident that reopening is supported by their business case, and that the response to this guidance will vary, depending on circumstances. 

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities, and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics.

This information should be considered live guidance and will be updated regularly. The Welsh Government welcomes feedback on the application of this guidance. If you would like to offer such comments, including sharing lessons learnt from your own reopening experience, please email: CSTCovid19@gov.Wales.

Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues

The reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues can only be possible within the current COVID-19 regulations whilst giving appropriate consideration to all relevant guidance. 

This guidance should also be considered in the context of regulations and guidance in other areas of life where there are key interdependencies that will affect the way we move forward. These include the need to self-isolate at home for individuals and households with symptoms of coronavirus. Restrictions for extremely vulnerable members of society who are being advised on medical grounds to continue to shield because of a serious underlying health issue(s), and also advice provided to older members of society to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures, will also have an impact on how organisations are able to address reopening. 
 
Organisations should focus on creating agile solutions that can be paused or rapidly reversed in the event of further COVID-19 outbreaks.

General considerations

Working within public health regulations and guidelines

  • all activity should always have regard to the Welsh Government guidance regarding health, social distancing and hygiene.

Social distancing

The COVID-19 regulations require open premises to take all reasonable measures to ensure:

  • that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between people on the premises;
  • where people are required to wait to enter the premises, that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between them;
  • take any other reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus at the premises, for example measures which limit close face to face interaction and maintain hygiene such as -
  • changing the layout of premises including the location of furniture and workstations;
  • controlling use of entrances, passageways, stairs and lifts;
  • controlling use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens;
  • controlling the use of, or access to, any other part of the premises;
  • installing barriers or screens;
  • providing or requiring use of personal protective equipment, and
  • provide information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

This guidance will assist in identifying reasonable measures that can be taken.

Planning and preparing buildings for reopening

  • plans should be proportionate, should be reviewed regularly, and must offer a careful, phased approach to reopening. 
  • carry out statutory health and safety checks on buildings prior to reopening for staff or visitors (e.g. legionella, water temperature, gas and electrical testing). Local authorities’ environmental health officers will be able to give valuable advice on what checks are required prior to reopening.
  • deep clean public and workforce areas prior to reopening and implement revised and enhanced cleaning regimes. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles. Some useful guidance is available on GOV.UK

Equality and diversity

  • consider the rights of those with protected characteristics and how they will be able to continue to access your venue / services safely. 
  • consider how you will continue to comply with Welsh language duties when implementing any changes in your activities / services. 
  • remember that some people do not have internet access. You should make provision for them to be able to make bookings / enquiries offline.

Security and emergency preparedness

  • consider the security implications of any changes you make to your ways of working. Be mindful of any new vulnerabilities you might inadvertently create when implementing new ways of working. Do not remove any security features without considering protective security in the round.
  • make sure that any COVID-19 adaptations support your emergency preparedness. Issues could include your fire alarm muster stations, access for emergency response teams, dealing with violent or aggressive people and other life-threatening situations. Check that trained first aiders are still willing to undertake those roles and update any first aid training to include COVID-19 protocols.

Test, Trace, Protect

  • the Test, Trace, Protect strategy exists to enhance health surveillance in the community, undertake effective and extensive contact tracing, and support people to secure a test and self-isolate where required to do so.
  • the Welsh Government has published guidance on employers' responsibilities to help with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. The guidance explains how employers in Wales can play their part in helping to deliver Wales’ Test, Trace, Protect strategy to slow the spread of the virus, protect our health and care systems and save lives.
  • Guidance has also been published on keeping records of staff, customers, and visitors: test, trace, protect.

Communications

  • public confidence will be key to supporting a successful and commercially viable return to business, and good communications will help to create it. Good communications must also be maintained with the community in which the organisation exists and operates. This is addressed in communications.

Review

  • ensure that all policies and measures are reviewed regularly (at least weekly), particularly in light of changes to legislation, government guidance, lessons learned and any other examples of best practice elsewhere.

On-site bars, restaurants, catering and non-essential retail

Costs of reopening

  • the Welsh Government recognises that part of the decision making on when to reopen for all sites will centre on the economic viability of doing so.
  • generally, the Welsh Government will not help to meet the cost of reopening and it will be for each organisation to determine whether it is right for them to reopen at a given time.

Thinking about risk

Risk assessment is about identifying in a timely fashion proportionate measures to control risks, both in your workplace and to the service you provide. The development of a COVID-19 risk assessment will help you to decide whether all necessary issues have been addressed. It will need to be reviewed regularly to ensure that it remains relevant and appropriate under changing circumstances. Your COVID-19 risk assessment will help to inform decisions and control measures. 

Employers have a duty to consult employees on health and safety. Workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer. They should be supported by their trades union or other representative organisation where appropriate. Employees should be encouraged to identify, speak up and feedback on risks and control measures, so they can be adapted. Be proactive about telling your workforce how they can raise a health and safety concern, and draft a protocol for how these issues can be resolved.

When thinking about COVID-19 related risk, issues to consider include: 

  • keeping risk assessments as ‘live’ documents that are regularly reviewed;
  • possible harms to both the physical and mental health of staff, volunteers and visitors;
  • the age and clinical vulnerability of people in your workforce;
  • the location of all touch points and whether they can be removed, protected or incorporated in an enhanced cleaning regime; 
  • minimum safe levels of staffing - for example to maintain the specific COVID-19 protocols, or in the event of a member of staff or volunteer becoming unwell, or needing to isolate repeatedly (this may affect visitor capacity on site);
  • postponement of work tasks with a higher risk of injury in order to minimise the need for first aid involvement and reduce the strain on the NHS; 
  • arrangements on staffed sites in the event of someone becoming unwell or injured whilst on the premises - including first aid arrangements (see also 'Employees and protecting people at work' below);
  • minimising the need for work-related journeys and face-to-face contact;
  • recognising that communication, training, and appropriate equipment are significant factors in helping to reduce risk.

Employees and protecting people at work

All reasonable actions must be taken in order to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. The Welsh Government has issued guidance on taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace, and also guidance for employers and employees on keeping safe in the workplace.  

The Welsh Government has published guidance on COVID-19 and personal protective equipment (PPE), including the use of face coverings This guidance should be followed and will be updated as required. There is separate guidance for first responders, including first aiders. You may wish to consider the use of FP2/FP3 facemasks as good practice when social distancing cannot be achieved during the administration of first aid.

You should also consider:

Training and information

  • appropriate training, briefing or recorded re-induction of staff and volunteers in the context of the new COVID-19 related roles and responsibilities; 
  • providing pre-return to work information so that staff understand logistical changes before they arrive back at the workplace;

Employee health and well-being

  • whose presence is essential on the premises - who should be at work and who should work from home;
  • arrangements for  extremely vulnerable individuals - noting that  individuals classed as extremely vulnerable on medical grounds  have been strongly advised to shield and therefore not to work outside the home; 
  • minimising staff interaction - for example, through shift patterns, flexible working, staggered breaks and use of welfare facilities;
  • reducing opportunities for person-to-person contact by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ or ‘buddying’/group arrangements (so each person works with only a few others);
  • employee well-being and health, for example, ability to carry out a particular role or how worried staff may feel about coming back into the building/site; Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one.
  • keeping lines of communication open with staff who may still be at home, and involving them in planning for the reopening and future changes;
  • providing support to staff returning to work following traumatic events, such as the death or illness of a loved one, or financial difficulty;

Human resources

  • updating human resources policies and procedures to take account of COVID-19-related matters (such as those relating to sickness, absence, well-being, mental health, remote/flexible working and training - remember to address new reasons for absence including close contact isolation or requiring time off work to take care of a dependant) and clearly communicating the changes to staff. If applicable, trades unions or other staff representative groups will need to be involved in these discussions; 
  • reviewing sickness absence processes so that workers are not penalised or disciplined for self-isolating;
  • the possibility of increased levels of absenteeism affecting critical activities and how this could be prevented (for example, consider training several members of staff to cover different roles);

Your site and its operation

  • how to conduct meetings on- and off-site, including remote working;
  • reducing unnecessary movement around buildings;
  • how staff enter and leave the workplace;
  • implementing additional specialised safe working practices that may be relevant to your setting - in consultation with staff, staff representatives and volunteers;
  • introducing protocols for back-of-house access including handling deliveries, visiting contractors, and other official visitors;
  • the management of cash handling and opening post; 
  • providing guidance to staff on staff catering facilities, use of kitchen equipment and staff bringing food to site - for example, cleaning of microwaves, fridges, eating areas etc;
  • providing spaces to store bags / clothes / tools / equipment away from others;
  • the need for more regular cleaning of staff facilities and toilets (see 'Cleaning and hygiene arrangements' below);
  • minimising the sharing of workstations as much as possible - if they need to be shared, they should be shared by the smallest possible number of people; 
  • cleaning and clearing workspaces, in particular where they are shared, and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.

Transportation

  • the crucial role that public transport will play in ensuring staff can return to work. In some areas this may mean that start and finish times may need to have a degree of flexibility, especially for staff with no access to private transport;
  • parking arrangements for staff cars / bicycles, including provision of additional parking for employees who may be avoiding the use of public transport.

The guidance on protecting people at work applies equally to volunteers and paid employees. 

Many cultural venues open to the public have small teams of staff and rely on volunteers or family members. Many of these are older and/or clinically vulnerable and therefore may be restricted under government guidance, and may not feel comfortable about continuing their involvement under the current conditions. Organisations will need to consider how they stay in touch with these people.

Organisations may need to look for ways of bringing new volunteers into their teams. This could help increase supervision at a time when many organisations will have lost some of their volunteer workforce.

When using this guidance, organisations need to be aware of the requirement to treat everyone in the workplace equally, and be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals. It is illegal to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex, disability, race or religion. 

Managing visitors

The measures that need to be implemented for managing visitors need to be proportionate, and will depend on the nature and size of the site. Some suggestions are set out below. 

Issues relating to the safe management of visitors should be identified in risk assessments. In some cases it may be possible to test arrangements by piloting opening with limited size groups. It may also be possible to consider approaches adopted by other cultural and heritage venues that are open in your local area. This would ensure a consistency of approach, identify any potential for partnership working, and could build greater confidence amongst visitors.

Indoor spaces

You should consider:

Capacity and circulation

  • assessing spaces to evaluate how many people can occupy particular spaces while safely observing social distancing;
  • introducing timed slots for entry which are available to book online, or accepting visitors by appointment only (remembering to set up alternative provision for those without internet access);
  • restricting capacity, especially in the first phase of reopening, to a level that you know the site and staff can comfortably accommodate while observing social distancing measures. Regularly review the capacity restrictions; 
  • arrangements for maintaining social-distancing - for example, developing a one-way system, with appropriate signage, or identifying key pinch and gathering points and how these can be managed. You may need to be quite radical in changing the way visitors have previously moved around your buildings;
  • ensuring any changes to entries, exit and queue management take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled customers;
  • limiting access and entry points, to improve the management of the flow of visitors. Where possible, you should have clearly marked “entrance and exit” points throughout the site;
  • leaving internal doors open where it is safe to do so (for example, subject to fire safety arrangements), so that visitors can see others at all times. This would have the added benefit of removing the need for multiple visitors to touch the same door handles, but it may not be possible if temperature / environmental conditions need control in delicate museum collections;
  • limiting the use of lifts - for example, to those with push chairs or to people with mobility / health issues. Where a lift is used, consider setting a new maximum capacity - for instance, one person, or two if a carer is required - and placing markers on the floor to indicate best social distancing practice in the confined space; 
  • using signage, barriers and floor markings to assist adherence to the social distancing rule, including at customer service desks, ticketing desks, shops and in galleries, etc.
  • introducing ‘stop and wait’ signs where appropriate; 
  • placing staff close to key pinch and gathering points to oversee the movement of visitors through these areas (e.g. narrow stairways / passageways which need to be used in both directions) - giving special consideration to those with disabilities including visual impairment. If it is not possible to maintain the required social distancing then consider closing off areas;
  • managing outdoor queues, if necessary, to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals or other businesses, for example by introducing queuing systems, using barriers and having staff direct customers. This may include using outside premises for queuing where available and safe, for example some car parks. Have contingency plans in place for periods of poor weather.

Visitor management

  • introducing public information that encourages visitors to take notice of instructions from venue staff - such as ‘help us to help you’ signage;
  • introducing barriers or Perspex screens at visitor reception areas, payment counters and in other areas of the building where appropriate;
  • introducing contactless payment at till points, or at least card payment, to avoid handling cash; 
  • limiting visitor seating, while recognising that some visitors have mobility needs and may need to rest;
  • using posters and announcements to remind visitors to take individual responsibility to social distance and to wash their hands often;
  • reminding visitors who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times;
  • removing any interactive objects or placing a sign to prohibit use (in due course, it might be possible to consider installing hand-sanitising stations near these areas for safer usage and to introduce new cleaning protocols); 
  • cleaning audio guides between users - they should be wiped down and cleaned with a wet wipe containing disinfectant. Staff handling the equipment will need to be appropriately protected; 
  • removing paper marketing material and other paper resources such as colouring-in pages and pencils to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Ventilation systems

Check whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels. 

Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment; however, where systems serve multiple buildings, or you are unsure, advice should be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers. Museum and archive stores with no permanent occupancy may allow for more tailored ventilation levels. Also, consider whether staff work stations located close to ventilation points need to be moved so that they aren’t exposed to additional risks.
 
There is advice available for building services, particularly around ventilation of buildings, both in use and when returning to buildings which have been closed. It can be accessed from the Health and Safety Executive, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, The Building Engineers Services Association and REHVA.

Group visits 

Gathering outdoors of up to 30 people are allowed but all reasonable measures must be taken to ensure physical and social distancing from people outside of a household or extended household and other reasonable mitigating measures must also be taken in order to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. Younger children do not need to rigidly follow the advice to stay 2 metres apart.  

Indoor group visits are only permissible with members of the same household or extended households provided they are staggered so as not to create a gathering of more than one household indoors. Venues and operators need to work together to plan for such visits so that they stay within the requirements of the regulations and guidance.

Outdoor spaces

You should consider:

  • car parking arrangements - for example, the management of potential queues;
  • working with your local authority on the impact of queueing and car parking on the local area;
  • minimising risk at car park pay points - for example by the use of clear signage, using pay by mobile phone, and/or the use of hand sanitising stations. Greater space may be needed between cars and for pedestrians as they move to and from car parks;
  • spacing of outdoor benches / picnic tables to allow a buffer between edges of tables / benches to allow for social distancing and frequent cleaning of surfaces when benches / tables are vacated;
  • outdoor playgrounds can open from 20 July where safety checks are in place and where Covid-19 hygiene measures are implemented. You may also wish to consider managing the number of playground users at any given time;
  • increasing the widths of pathways and developing one-way systems where possible. 

Cleaning and hygiene arrangements

Introduce cleaning / hygiene protocols that are easily understood by all staff and contractors. There is useful guidance available on cleaning and hygiene in non-healthcare settings.

You should consider:

  • a high and visible level of hygiene alongside your cleaning staff will provide reassurance for visitors;
  • increasing cleaning at touch points, such as handrails, gates, doorknobs, door plates, lift buttons, parking meters, equipment provided to visitors, etc. and equipment that employees need to share; 
  • providing hand sanitiser at the entry and exit points to the site/building and where regular, unavoidable and multiple touch points exist;
  • increasing frequency of the cleaning of work areas and surfaces, using your usual cleaning products;
  • Self-service photocopiers, scanners and printers should be cleaned between users and, if possible, should be restricted to staff use to limit the number of people touching the control pad. This equipment should be cleaned regularly by staff in line with risk assessments.
  • providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection;
  • installing hand sanitiser for use by staff and volunteers before they enter kitchen facilities;
  • reinforcing essential hygiene messages about frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitiser, the need to avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm or into a tissue which should be binned safely; 
  • restricting the sharing of communal facilities, for example, removing water fountains.

Toilet facilities 

With specific regard to toilet facilities, consideration should be given to:

  • enhancing and increasing frequency of cleaning regimes;
  • introducing signage and floor markers to support social distancing, including when queuing;
  • consider whether people should queue outside of the toilet building rather than through the door and into it. People queueing are often in very close proximity to those washing their hands and this should be avoided;
  • cordoning off every other urinal or basin unit;
  • introducing no-touch soap dispensers if possible;
  • introducing more regular checks of soap / paper towel dispensers, in the expectation that greater use will be made of these;
  • using signs and posters to build awareness of good hand washing technique;
  • providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms;
  • minimising the use of portable toilets.

Monitoring and evaluation

You should consider how to systematically monitor and evaluate the procedures and plans that have been put in place. You should consider: 

  • whether safety measures and controls to protect workers and the visiting public are working effectively; 
  • how the work is being done; and 
  • the behaviours of workers and other people in the workplace. 

Further useful guidance is available from the British Standards Institute

Communications

Good communication will be a critical factor in rebuilding public confidence. As highlighted in the introduction this is important on a number of levels: within your organisation, for visitors, service users and audiences, and for local communities. Organisations should publish a clear statement detailing their plans to reopen safely and the steps they are taking to reduce the potential for infection transmission. This should include any new opening times and any changes to how people can safely access their venue. It is also important to review internal and external communications frequently to ensure that they are effective and appropriate. 

For internal communications, you could consider:

  • engaging with employees directly and also through trades unions to develop and agree any changes in working arrangements;
  • introducing re-induction sessions for employees and developing tool box talks (short documented talks with staff on any changes to work process);
  • providing clear and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of how and why new ways of working are being applied;
  • providing training materials on new procedures (consider how these materials are delivered, including online to maintain social distancing between workers);
  • focusing on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty;
  • how new safety guidance will be communicated to delivery workers, contractors and other site visitors.

For visitors, service users and audiences, you could consider:

  • emphasising that visitor and staff safety is the priority;
  • communicating through social media, websites and email to help them prepare for their visit - providing information about what to expect, what health precautions and social distancing measures have been put in place, what is open and closed, queuing, reduced capacity, and the changed visitor experience, e.g. no interactive interpretations;
  • promoting pre-booking requirements, entry systems or online free tickets or ticket purchases (including offline options for those with no internet access);
  • informing visitors of any changes to booking procedures for an  extremely vulnerable (shielding) person or those with protected characteristics (how you will assist disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women so that they can continue to access venues in a safe way, for example, avoiding the need for them to queue);
  • providing additional information to visually impaired visitors in advance of visits regarding changed access to buildings or sites and new and more complex visitor routes; 
  • the use of simple, clear and accessible messaging to explain guidelines, with consideration of groups whose first language may not be Welsh or English or where alternative formats may be required.

For local communities, you could consider:

  • finding out whether your local community is apprehensive about visitor attractions reopening and the associated increase in the number of people travelling to the area;
  • working closely with your local community to develop a strategy to not only inform the community of your plans to reopen, but to provide reassurance that additional precautions are being taken and vigorously monitored;
  • explaining what arrangements are in place for managing visitor numbers and behaviours and what arrangements are in place for reversing a decision to open if necessary;
  • working collaboratively with other culture and heritage destinations in your area to send out coordinated communications. Ensuring that the same or similar messages are being used could provide reassurance.

Museums and art galleries

This guidance applies to museums, galleries and other visual arts venues, and any other organisation or venue operating as exhibitors and collectors. The Welsh Government recognises that museums and galleries across Wales vary significantly in size and operation and this will contribute to decisions on when it is appropriate to reopen or resume some activities. 

The general principles outlined in the sections above apply to this sector.
 
Larger museums (national and local authority) may find it easier to open and are actively encouraged to support small independent organisations by sharing best practice and learning.

Museums and art galleries can re-open from 27 July 2020.

Planning for reopening

Museums and galleries face a variety of challenges to reopen safely for the workforce and the public. Most, if not all, will have to make significant physical and operational changes. This will change how museums and galleries provide entry and how visitors move around buildings and external grounds in order to meet the guidance on social distancing. These changes may include limiting entry, perhaps using timed, bookable slots, and ensuring that visitors move through galleries following clearly determined routes. It may mean that some exhibition areas will need to remain closed where safe social distancing can’t be implemented. 

Reopening will require changes to previous ways of working, and every organisation must develop specific reopening plans. 

Special considerations

In addition to the list of considerations provided in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications', there are some specific considerations relevant to the museum and galleries sector.

Managing galleries and visitor access. Issues to consider include:

  • how your workforce can actively support visitor experiences within social distancing guidelines; 
  • planning entry welcome points so visit information is easily accessible for visitors;
  • where possible, planning workforce location points for clear sight lines and supporting visitor movement around the galleries; 
  • planning for managing visitors in wet weather or if there is potential for queuing;
  • preparing galleries by removing or limiting access to manual interactives and interactive displays, and reviewing other high ‘touch point’ areas;
  • minimising or suspending public handling of collections, and continuing to assess and revise your approach as restrictions ease; 
  • for museums offering audio tours, consider enhanced cleaning regimes or quarantine periods for hand-held devices, or whether it is possible to make the audio tour available to download on personal devices; if hand-held devices are used they should be wiped down and cleaned with a wet wipe containing disinfectant
  • can cloakroom facilities be operated safely? Decisions on closing cloakrooms should consider whether visitors carrying bags, coats, buggies and prams around the museum / gallery increases the risk of transmission;
  • taking care with cleaning regimes where there may be objects on open display; 
  • if there are historic surfaces on your visitor route (e.g. floors, carpets, railings, etc.) consider the sensitivity of these surfaces. Seek conservation advice if you are considering changing your pre-lockdown cleaning routine; 
  • if you have historic floors within your building, seek conservation advice to  avoid any damage that  could be caused by marking social distancing;
  • if implementing new visitor routes around your premises, consider if there may be additional wear to any historic surfaces as a result and what you can do to mitigate damage;
  • guides and interpreters may cause visitors to gather in a group and undermine social distancing measures. Consider ways to address this risk and adapt as necessary; 
  • exploring ways of encouraging a positive experience for visitors, so that you do not lose opportunities or the ethos of positive engagement despite the restrictions;
  • you will need to apply all of the above to any behind the scenes visitor offer.

Public programmes and activities. Issues to consider include:

  • when to reintroduce learning opportunities including school programmes, facilitated and self-led visits. This will require working closely with schools and education services and must always be in line with the Welsh Government guidelines. Museums may continue to work with schools and community groups on-line
  • when to reintroduce events and exhibitions as the restrictions in the COVID- 19 regulations are eased. Think about your loan schedules - are they still viable? Do you need to develop alternative options? If you have items in your museum / gallery covered by the Government Indemnity Scheme, you will need to ensure you are complying with the latest Government Indemnity Scheme guidance
  • when to restart activities that involve larger gatherings. This will need to be assessed in line with any restrictions on mass gatherings and guidance on social distancing. Consideration could be given to offering different experiences digitally until this is feasible.
  • when to restart venue hire and other commercial activity. In each case this would need to be assessed and comply with COVID-19 regulations and associated guidance. 

Working with collections and objects

Museums and galleries will need to review how they can safely manage, move and display collections both within their own museums and between museums. These protocols should be reviewed regularly as the situation eases to allow a return to more access to objects and increased handling when it is safe to do so. There will also be a need to train staff on the new safety procedures for working with collections and archives to minimise touch transmission. Each museum should review and update their emergency preparedness plan to reflect the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When handling collection items and their packaging, you will need to consider:

  • social distancing and hand washing arrangements before and after handling collections; 
  • use of disposable plastic gloves;
  • use of appropriate specialist face mask or face covering to avoid contamination when dealing with collection items;
  • removing and disposing of PPE in accordance with the organisation’s protocols;
  • ensuring that maintenance checks and enhanced cleaning are up to date for any equipment you use to work with collections; 
  • when working with large collections, ensuring that you have considered social distancing when developing manual handling protocol.

Where possible, workflows should be adjusted to ensure that that the number of separate individuals handling collections is kept to a minimum. Where this is not possible, a quarantine procedure should be implemented for the item / collection to minimise the risk of transmission.

Develop safe handling protocols for items that need to be handled that protect the user and the artefact, e.g. consider how increased use of hand sanitiser may impact historic surfaces, such as paper, if residues are left through handling.

The virus survives for longer on metal and hard, smooth surfaces, such as glazed ceramics and plastics, than on porous surfaces, like paper and textiles. There is a greater risk of transfer from smooth surfaces than highly textured surfaces, such as textiles, but textured surfaces are harder to clean.

Cleaning or treatment of objects should only be undertaken after seeking advice from a conservator. Consider how a quarantine protocol could help in this area. Quarantine periods will differ across a range of materials and should be kept under review and determined by the latest scientific evidence and advice relating to the virulence of the virus on surfaces. Some evidence suggests that the virus will persist longer at temperatures below room temperature and where humidity levels are low. However, in normal humidity and temperature ranges (40 - 60%RH; 16 - 22°C), a quarantine period of 72 hours is recommended based on advice on handling goods, clothing and merchandise in retail situations

Non-heritage surfaces in collections or other spaces that are used to work on collections can be cleaned using disinfection methods that can be well controlled, e.g. disinfectant wipes. This approach should also be adopted with non-heritage doorknobs, handrails, etc. within the same spaces. Handling equipment (e.g. trolleys) can also be cleaned in this way.

Other useful guidance on collections care factors are covered in The Institute of Conservation’s guidance ‘Waking up collections: a post-lockdown guide’.

In historic and listed buildings, follow the guidelines in Annex C for heritage surfaces such as period door fittings, bannisters and furniture. 

Receiving collections, archives and donations

Museums and galleries may also have to adapt how they collect and process new material, which should include safety guidance for quarantining objects being donated and / or moved. Advice suggests a quarantine period of at least 72 hours for collections and archives received - see link above. In cool, dry museum and archive stores (less than 30%RH; less than 6°C) extend the quarantine period to at least one week. Materials should be clearly date marked and stored in a separate location or in sealed containers.

When receiving collections, consideration should be given to the following:

  • from organisations: COVID-19-secure protocols and risk assessment for handling and dispatching collections;
  • from individuals: it is recommended that items received from individuals should be quarantined (see above); 
  • from transport companies: COVID-19-secure protocols and risk assessment for handling and dispatching collections;
  • transport companies will only work with organisations that have COVID-19-secure risk assessments for handling and dispatching collections; 
  • photo-capture to record deliveries/collection of material;
  • electronic exchange and signature of essential paperwork if not available digitally;
  • disinfection of packing crates/boxes with tissue and alcohol or disinfectant wipes;
  • disinfection of handling equipment such as trollies with disinfectant wipes;
  • quarantine (see above);
  • safe storage or disposal of packing material - if quarantined (see above), these materials will not require any further cleaning. 

Museums receiving archives should also refer to Local archive services.
Museums holding events such as concerts or plays should also refer to Arts venues, including concert halls and theatres.
Historic buildings and historic gardens also includes guidance that organisations may find useful.

Useful links

These links are provided as useful information only, and may refer to guidance produced outside Wales. You should always consider any information contained in these links within the context of Welsh Government legislation, which must take precedence.

Museums Association 

The Institute of Conservation: Waking up collections: a post-lockdown guide 

Association of Independent Museums: Museum reopening guidance and checklist 

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI): Caring for heritage collections during the Covid-19 pandemic

International Council of Museums: Museums and end of lockdown: Ensuring the safety of the public and staff

artnet: How should a museum reopen in a post-Covid world? Here is everything you need to know to do it safely, according to experts

National Museum Director's Council: Good practice guidelines on opening museums after July 4th

Historic England: Cleaning historic surfaces (Covid-19).

Historic and ancient monuments

The general principles in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications', of this information apply to this sector. However, common to all historic and ancient monuments is the likelihood that the majority will enjoy some form of statutory protection - either as listed buildings and/or scheduled monuments.

Where physical alterations to a listed building or scheduled monument are necessary, listed building consent (LBC) or scheduled monument consent (SMC) is likely to be required. However, it may be possible to allow heritage sites to function safely in response to COVID-19 in ways that will not require consent. 

People considering works to a scheduled monument (temporary or otherwise) should contact Cadw, where staff will be able to provide more advice. They may, for example, be able to suggest ways in which COVID-19 mitigation measures might be achieved without the need for consent. 

Planning for reopening

Both indoor and outdoor attractions can now reopen. 

Larger gatherings of up to 30 people can also take place outdoors where physical and social distancing from people outside of a household or extended household is maintained. Younger children do not need to rigidly follow the advice to stay 2 metres apart.

Special considerations

In addition to the list of considerations provided in in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications', there are some specific considerations relevant to those who manage ancient monuments.

In many cases, it will be possible to find ways in which the safe movement of staff and visitors in historic and ancient monuments can be achieved without compromising their safety or damaging historic fabric or below ground archaeology - and so avoiding the need for scheduled monument or listed building consent. 

Historic and ancient monuments, including ruined structures, are more likely to have constrained spaces such as small rooms, narrow staircases and limited entrance or exit points. A particular challenge may be the number of spaces that can only be accessed using steep, narrow and uneven stairs, and often require handrails or ropes that can’t be cleaned on a regular basis. Consideration will need to be given to restricting access or to closing some elements of sites even if other areas of a particular site have been reopened.

Responses need to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 regulations and should be proportionate to the type of site, the likely number of visitors and the nature of the likely risks; an isolated archaeological site or remote historic structure is unlikely to need any specific signage or other measures. 

When dealing with historic and ancient monuments that are protected, there is a need to consider: 

  • installing signage, screens and barriers in a sensitive way which does not cause damage to a historic building or below ground archaeology;  
  • ensuring that markings are done in a way which does not cause lasting damage to a historic building or archaeological site; 
  • limiting the number of people entering some narrow or small spaces by staggering entrance and exit times, especially where there is plenty of space for socially distanced queues to be created; 
  • planning for managing visitors in wet weather;
  • closing off areas of the monument that can only be accessed by narrow passages or stairways - in particular those that require the use of handrails and ropes that will be challenging to keep clean.

Some of the above will require SMC, and therefore advice from Cadw should be sought at an early stage in the planning phase. 

In some cases historic monuments also host museums - such as Cardiff Castle and Caernarfon Castle - in which case there will be a need to consider the specific guidance included in Museums and art galleries.

Sites holding events such as concerts or plays should also refer to Arts venues, including concert halls and theatres.

Useful links

These links are being provided as useful information only, and may refer to guidance produced outside of Wales. You should always consider any information contained in these links within the context of Welsh Government legislation which must take precedence. 

Natural Resources Wales have prepared guidance for managers of outdoor natural and cultural sites for outdoor recreation: Coronavirus (Covid 19): Guidance for reopening natural and outdoor cultural sites for recreation.

Visitor Safety Group’s (VSG) Covid-19 recovery planning guidance working practices for landowners and countryside managers.

Cadw: Advice and guidance 

GOV.UK: Guidance on searching for archaeological finds in England during COVID-19.

GOV.UK: Guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations

GOV.UK: Guidance for members of the public (including metal-detectorists) searching for archaeological finds in England during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historic buildings and historic gardens

This additional guidance applies to historic houses, historic places of worship and historic parks and gardens that are open to the public. In many cases, they are run by public sector bodies. In other cases, they may be operated by third sector charitable trusts or by private owners. 

The Welsh Government recognises that historic houses and historic parks and gardens vary significantly in size and operation. 

The general principles in sections Introduction, How to use this guidance, Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues and Communications apply to this sector, although it is recognised that there are some specific issues to consider when planning for reopening. In particular, common to all historic buildings, historic places of worship and historic gardens is the likelihood that the majority will enjoy some form of statutory protection - either as listed buildings, scheduled monuments or registered historic parks and gardens.

Where physical alterations to a listed building or scheduled monument are necessary, listed building consent (LBC) or scheduled monument consent (SMC) is likely to be required. However, it may be possible to allow heritage sites to function safely in response to COVID-19 in ways that will not require consent. 

The Welsh Government encourages local planning authorities, and religious denominations that are exempt from the requirement to obtain listed building consent, to take a pragmatic approach when sympathetic temporary alterations are proposed to listed buildings in response to COVID-19. We recognise the need to protect against alterations that cause permanent harm, but such temporary measures will not have the same degree of permanence as more lasting works, they will usually be easily reversible and will often be sympathetically designed so as not to affect the building’s character as one of special architectural or historic interest. This means that listed building consent may not actually be required for such temporary works. In such circumstances, we recommend that local planning authorities and exempt denominations agree the methodology for undertaking such work in order to protect against any misunderstanding. Exempt denominations should use their internal systems of control to determine whether they need formal clearance for any temporary works. We would also recommend that, where possible, local planning authorities and exempt denominations prioritise those applications and proposals that are submitted in response to COVID-19.

If an operator is in any doubt about the need for consent or permission, they are strongly advised to discuss the situation with the local planning authority, or with Cadw in relation to SMCs.  

Owners of conditionally exempt buildings and chattels in Wales will wish to know how their obligations to provide public access are affected by the COVID-19 restrictions. HMRC has issued a statement to confirm it understands that it may not be possible for some owners of properties or assets in the Conditional Exemption Scheme to meet all of their undertakings this year. 

Planning for reopening

The challenges in respect of reopening will vary according to the nature of the site and its operation. For example, it would normally be easier to comply with regulations in open, outdoor spaces, so reopening gardens and grounds could in most instances reasonably precede opening indoor spaces. However, even here, consideration will need to be given to how visitor numbers are managed, and to the way visitors move through the site. Some historic gardens for example may feature small spaces or narrow pathways. 

Many houses, historic places of worship and gardens open to the public have small teams of staff and rely on volunteers (or in the case of privately owned property, on family members). Many of these individuals may be older and/or extremely vulnerable on medical grounds and therefore may be restricted under government guidance, and may not feel comfortable about continuing their involvement with the site at this time.

Larger properties or those which are not also in use as private homes may find it easier to open and may be able to support small independent organisations by sharing best practice and learning.

All destinations will need to consider how best to communicate operational changes to visitors and alert them that some facilities or elements of the experience will not be open. Where possible, destinations should take the opportunity to communicate with visitors prior to their visit and to reinforce messaging on arrival and on site (see also 'Communications').  

Special considerations 

Many of the suggested measures detailed in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications' will be relevant when considering reopening historic buildings, historic places of worship and historic gardens. The subsections below consider some issues that are particularly relevant to these historic places. 

In many cases it will be possible to find ways in which the safe movement of staff and visitors in historic places can be achieved without compromising their safety or damaging historic fabric, so avoiding the need for listed building consent. This may mean requiring different routes around sites, the erection of temporary barriers and regular, very visible, signs or other reminders. 
 
Historic buildings, including historic places of worship or ruined structures are more likely to have constrained spaces such as small rooms, narrow staircases and limited entrance or exit points. A particular challenge may be the number of spaces that can only be accessed using steep narrow and uneven stairs, and often require handrails or ropes that can’t be cleaned on a regular basis.

When adapting buildings that are protected, there is a need to consider: 

  • installing signage, screens and barriers in a sensitive way which does not cause damage to a historic building or an archaeological site;
  • ensuring that markings are done in a way which does not cause lasting damage to a historic building or an archaeological site; 
  • avoiding attaching any signage to historic wall coverings, textiles or furnishings;
  • taking care with cleaning regimes and avoiding any changes to them without first seeking conservation advice.

Fixtures and fittings such as door furniture, staircase handrails, panelling and floors are vulnerable to damage through inappropriate cleaning (such as bleach), and where they have a protective coating, such as varnish or wax, this surface may be damaged by alcohol-based sanitizers. A dilute solution of non-ionic, conservation-grade detergent in distilled water applied for at least 20 seconds then rinsed and dried immediately is recommended by Historic England for some surfaces (see useful links);

  • using temporary non-damaging covers that can be put over sensitive surfaces which can then be subject to standard cleaning regimes;
  • liaising with the local planning authority or Cadw as to whether LBC or SMC is required. 

Historic houses

On 10 July 2020, the First Minister announced that indoor visitor attractions could open from 13 July.

Reopening the houses themselves to the public is likely to entail significant operational changes and new ways of working. 

  • arrangements to houses that are part occupied or used as private residences. The issues may be different for houses (such as those in the care of the National Trust) where visitors do not have access to parts of the property that are also occupied and for private houses which have traditionally allowed access to parts of the property that remain in daily use. Individual circumstances will vary, but it is likely that, particularly for some privately owned houses, reopening may not be possible or desirable for some time. 
  • arrangements for visitor access and movement around the property - see 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications'. This might be particularly challenging for some historic houses. The introduction of new visitor routes may result in additional wear to historic surfaces and care will be needed to avoid or mitigate damage.
  • greater use of advance booking and admission by appointment, making it easier to manage visitor numbers. 
  • currently gatherings indoors (with the exception of households and extended households) are not allowed.  When these restrictions ease and visitors can attend in groups or as part of guided tours, all reasonable measures will need to be taken to ensure social distancing is maintained. Organisations will need to check government guidance prior to agreeing to any bookings.
  • consideration will also need to be given to the accessible spaces themselves - confined areas, or those with restricted entry points may have to remain closed, and there may need to be greater stress on clearly determined routes.
  • limiting the number of people entering some narrow or small spaces by staggering entrance and exit times, especially where there is plenty of space for socially distanced queues to be created. 
  • losing off areas of the building that can only be accessed by narrow passages or stairways - in particular those that require the use of handrails and ropes that will be challenging to keep clean;
  • reopening for large events is unlikely to be possible until a much later stage of emerging from lockdown. Small weddings, wakes and other gatherings may be possible sooner. Organisations will need to check government guidance prior to agreeing to any bookings;
  • you will also need to consider how the public can safely access toilet facilities, and the provision of sufficient and appropriate hand washing facilities / hand sanitiser, maintaining social distancing within such facilities and regular effective cleaning of such facilities.

In many cases historic houses will have collections of objects and furniture that will require specific consideration - in particular handling by both employees and by visitors. For handling collections / working with objects in a historic houses context, you should refer to 'Museums and art galleries'.

Historic parks and gardens

Outdoor visitor attractions were allowed to re-open on 6 July. From 13 July, larger gatherings of up to 30 people are also permitted outdoors.

For historic parks and gardens that are open to the public, many of the issues associated with reopening will be similar to those of other organisations who manage open spaces that are used by the public for outdoor exercise and recreation. Natural Resources Wales have prepared guidance for managers of outdoor natural and cultural sites for outdoor recreation.

A number of the measures detailed in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' should be considered prior to opening gardens such as introducing a booking system to manage numbers and one-way systems - in particular those measures in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues: managing visitors' associated with outdoor spaces. 

Specific consideration needs to be given to any proposed physical interventions given that the majority of sites are on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and may contain scheduled and / or listed structures and features and special consent and / or planning permission may be required.  

Some specific issues to consider when opening historic gardens include:

  • creating new visitor routes and one-way systems to aid social distancing.  Ideally these should be temporary and fully reversible, such as creating new mown paths in grassland. Note however that one-way systems cannot be introduced on existing rights of way; 
  • designing routes carefully to avoid going over archaeological features or earthworks, or damaging garden planting or features; 
  • if temporary visitor seating is needed next to these new routes, then these should also be placed carefully in relation to garden or archaeological features; 
  • monitoring the use of new routes - closing them off and creating new ones if visitor erosion becomes a problem;
  • planning for managing visitors in wet weather;
  • if takeaway food and drink is being considered then guidance on this is available in Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues of this information. Unless strict cleaning regimes of outdoor tables can be introduced, we would suggest that visitors use their own picnic rugs and chairs. 

Historic places of worship 

This section is specifically concerned with those former places of worship that are no longer primarily used for religious worship and are now maintained as historic buildings and heritage attractions, albeit that some also serve as places for private prayer and contemplation. For places of worship that are still in active use, the major faith groups in Wales are in the process of drawing up their own guidelines. 

Many places of worship are important heritage attractions due to their historical, architectural and art historical interest. They are mostly supported by a large force of volunteers who undertake essential cleaning, maintenance, repair, security administration and visitor welcome duties.

Private prayer in places of worship was permitted on 19 June, where social distancing is maintained and gatherings did not take place. From 13 July 2020, faith leaders can begin to gradually resume services when they are ready to do so safely.

Reopening should be seen as an opportunity to engage visitors in the longer-term future of these buildings. Research shows that people have become much more conscious of the value of their local heritage during the lockdown and every opportunity should be used to build on this as we welcome people back. Notices welcoming visitors should be positive and engaging, and should explain the additional steps being taken to ensure the historic place of worship is a safe environment which has appropriate cleaning and hygiene protocols in place.
In addition to the list of considerations provided in in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications', there are some specific considerations relevant to those who manage historic places of worship. 

These include:

  • volunteering arrangements - helping volunteers feel safe and comfortable with the new arrangements, including making allowances for individuals who have been advised to shield but who choose to continue their volunteering duties;
  • the need for specific training to support staff and volunteers; 
  • organisations may need to consider ways of bringing new volunteers into their teams. Perhaps there are people who are deferring their university places who need work experience; or young people who have finished their school year early; or people on furlough who would like to be able to volunteer? Such new recruits could help increase supervision at a time when many organisations will have lost much of their volunteer workforce.
  • historic places of worship often employ key-holder arrangements if visitors need to obtain a key to gain access. Arrangements for the safe handover and return of the key will need to comply with social distancing requirements. Quarantine or cleaning regimes may also be needed to ensure there is no risk of viral transfer on the key. 

If organisations also hold events such as concerts or plays they should also refer to Arts venues, including concert halls and theatres.

Useful Links

These links are being provided as useful information only, and may refer to guidance produced outside of Wales. You should always consider any information contained in these links within the context of Welsh Government legislation and guidance. 

Natural Resources Wales have prepared guidance for managers of outdoor natural and cultural sites for outdoor recreation: Coronavirus (Covid 19) Guidance for reopening natural and outdoor cultural sites for recreation.

Visitor Safety Group’s (VSG): Covid-19 recovery planning guidance working practices for landowners and countryside managers.

Public Health England (PHE): COVID-19: cleaning historic surfaces

The Church in Wales: Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance weddings and funerals

Cadw: Advice and guidance 

GOV.UK: Guidance for people who work or volunteer in heritage locations 

GOV.WALES: Guidance on reopening places of worship (coronavirus)

GOV.WALES: Guidance for managing the safe re-opening of places of worship and prayer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Libraries

This additional guidance applies to public libraries, and could be applied to private libraries that are open to the public. The general principles in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications', in this information apply to this sector, although there are also some specific issues that need to be considered. 

The contents of this information is intended as guidance for the first phase of reopening libraries and additional guidance will follow when appropriate. 

Planning for reopening 

The Covid-19 regulations allow for the re-opening of libraries in Wales.

The work to develop specific guidance for the library sector in Wales will be kept under review, updated and adapted to reflect the phased approach to reopening libraries throughout Wales. This guidance has been developed in collaboration with library services of local authorities and trusts in order to assist libraries in the gradual resumption of library activities as we move from lockdown.

Each library service will need to adapt this guidance into specific actions depending on the local context and in consultation at a local authority level recognising that the priorities and practicalities regarding processes will differ for each library service. Individual local authorities and trusts will need to control the process of restoring services according to their capacity to manage them and should consider delivering a click and collect service in the first instance.

It is expected that restoring library services will be a phased process and planning should allow for the possibility of closing libraries again should public health and government guidance require it. In the first instance, it may only be possible for services to be delivered from larger library sites, with a gradual expansion to smaller sites and local authority-supported community libraries. 

The Welsh Ministers consider libraries valuable community resources particularly for those who may be disadvantaged. It is a positive step for library services to prepare and plan to reopen. However, it is also recognised that staff and public health and well-being should be the primary consideration in the provision of any service.

Library services in Wales should also take note of the guidance provided by Libraries Connected.

Special considerations

In addition to the list of considerations provided in sections Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues and Communications, further guidance on home and mobile library services and library services can be found in the guidance from Libraries Connected. Here are some specific considerations relevant to public libraries. 

Cleaning and hygiene arrangements

  • in line with guidance from Public Health England and informed by the international experience of restoring library services following the easing of lockdown, we recommend a quarantine period of 72 hours for physical items returned to the library.
  • it is recommended that returned materials should be stored in appropriate containers, such as cardboard boxes, date marked and, where possible, stored in a separate area of the library. 
  • additional emphasis should be placed on disinfecting computers after each use. Consideration should be given to placing hand sanitiser next to PCs. It may also be necessary to move PCs to comply with social distancing. The guidance on cleaning and hygiene arrangements given above (Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues) should be considered in detail.
  • guidance on toilet facilities has been provided earlier in this information and it should also be considered in detail. It will be essential to ensure risk assessments are in place, alongside guidelines for new procedures (for staff and the public) and planning any training required.

Staffing

  • safe staffing levels will need to be considered in light of the requirement to take all reasonable measures to ensure a distance of 2m is maintained between persons in in line with the Welsh Government guidance
  • consider altering shift patterns to reduce the number of staff in the library.
  • ensure that staff have the equipment and training necessary to maintain health and safety in libraries, e.g. hand washing facilities.
  • libraries should take note of the Welsh Government guidance for employers and businesses

Access to library stock

  • decide how long it will take to fulfil an order, and how many collection / return slots could be offered per week to ensure social distancing and staff safety. Increasing borrowing limits should be considered. 
  • continue to promote online services to limit the number of visitors to the library building.
  • it may be necessary to rearrange furniture or equipment to ensure social distancing measures are complied with. You should take note of guidance taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace.
  • areas/furniture that cannot be removed and physical distancing would be challenging should be blocked off with caution tape or by other means.
  • You should take note of guidance taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace
  • where possible, users should be encouraged to continue to use the electronic resources that libraries have offered whilst library buildings have been closed. 

Browsing in libraries is not addressed in this guidance but is reflected in the Libraries Connected guidance. 

Mobile Library Services

Mobile Library Services can be resumed as long as all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres between all persons is maintained.

Information in the Libraries Connected Guidance should be noted when undertaking library delivery services.

Browsing

Prior to reopening library buildings for browsing, social distancing measures and hygiene protocols must be in place.  Local authority endorsement is also essential requirements to reopening public libraries.

The following are options that should be considered by libraries

  • consider closing certain areas of the library, adopting a one-way system and having alternative entry and exit arrangements.
  • a maximum number of users in the Library at any one time. Alternatively only allowing users in on an appointment basis only.
  • asking users, as a condition of entry to use a hand sanitiser. 
  • considerations should be given to a 15-20 minute time limit in the Library building
  • procedures for staff monitoring and enforcing social distancing
  • perspex screens at points where face to face contact might occur
  • minimising face to face contact
  • cashless payment is preferable for any services requiring payment
  • consideration of existing policies supporting vulnerable populations’ use of library services (membership policy, longer loan periods, no overdue fines).

The system introduced under lockdown for collecting pre-ordered books can remain in place according to the needs of users.

Effective communications

  • revised guidance, opening hours and services will need to be communicated to the public. During the gradual resumption of service, it will be essential that key messages are coordinated on a national and a local authority basis to explain the reopening process, its limitations and how people will be expected to use libraries, in line with the current COVID-19 regulations and guidance in place. 
  • if possible, organisations should publish an action plan detailing their plans to reopen safely and the steps they are taking to avoid confusion. Options to consider include: websites; social media; online catalogue; posters with rules of behaviours and hygiene.

Libraries Connected: Library recovery toolkit.  

Local archive services

This additional guidance applies to local archive services. The general principles 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications' in this document apply to this sector, although it is recognised that there are some specific issues that need to be considered by those responsible for running archive services. 

Planning for reopening

Archive services can re-open from 27 July.

Local archive services hold documents and manuscripts comprising the official record of their parent local authority, locally generated public records, and archives generated by local families, individuals, businesses and institutions, which together provide a unique and invaluable source of evidence for our local and national history. These record offices have traditionally welcomed the public and professional researchers to visit and engage with the wide range of records in their care.

As with other organisations in the culture and heritage sector, local archives should be planning a gradual and phased approach to reopening, one which conforms to the COVID-19 regulations in Wales.

Local archive services fulfil an important public as well as statutory function in collecting and caring for the documentary memory of the county. Initially, priority should be given to ensuring that they are able to deal with official / legal enquiries as soon as possible, and then moving to providing a service for researchers as the next phase. Any resumption of cataloguing and conservation functions would need to be undertaken with the appropriate safeguarding measures in place. There will also be a need to train staff on new safety procedures for working with collections and archives to minimise touch transmission.

We envisage events programming and educational services will be maintained on-line only in the red and amber phases of reopening and in line with the COVID-19 regulations. 

The National Archives, which has statutory oversight of public records provision in Wales and fulfils a professional leadership role for the archive sector, has developed a comprehensive guide for archive services as part of their planning for reopening. The guidance includes some useful principles and operational factors which would support the reopening of local archive services in Wales.

Special considerations

In addition to the list of considerations provided in in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications', there are some specific considerations relevant to the provision of archive services. 

Particular consideration needs to be given to:

  • while some collections are available on line, on a day-to-day basis members of staff would normally interact with and provide professional support for the public as part of the archive’s services; 
  • arrangements for educational visits, events, and research services, which all require face-to-face interaction with people; 
  • develop safe handling protocols for items that need to be handled that protect the user and the artefact, e.g. consider how increased use of hand sanitiser may impact historic surfaces, such as paper, if residues are left through handling;
  • receiving and managing collections and conservation work - which require staff to be handling potentially contaminated materials. For receiving and handling collections / working with objects, you should refer to guidance in 'Museums and art galleries'. 


Useful links

These links are being provided as useful information only, and may refer to guidance produced outside Wales. You should always consider any information contained in these links within the context of Welsh Government legislation, which must take precedence. 

The National Archives: Making plans for re-opening

BSI Standards: New guidance on safe working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cinemas

This additional guidance applies to all cinemas operating in Wales. In some cases cinemas are located within mixed arts venues, in which case there will be a need to consider some of the measures suggested in Arts venues, including concert halls and theatres relating to arts venues. There may also be additional requirements for cinemas located in retail centres, and organisations will need to work with others to ensure a consistent approach to public safety.

The general principles and guidance detailed in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications', are relevant to the sector, but it is recognised that there are a number of specific issues that need to be considered. 

Planning for reopening

Indoor and outdoor cinemas can reopen.

When planning for reopening, cinemas will need to be proactive about working differently, acknowledging that management of facilities and of audiences will initially need to be very different to the arrangements that existed prior to lockdown. 

Each venue will need to undertake its own assessment of how to implement and respond to the COVID-19 regulations, noting that, while social distancing measures are in place, there will inevitably be a significant reduction to seating capacity.

Comprehensive guidelines have been developed by the UK Cinema Association (see links below), and cinema settings in Wales should refer to these whilst always complying with the broader regulations and guidance in Wales relating to COVID-19. The guidelines recognise the broad range of different site layouts and business models which exist in cinemas in Wales.

Each cinema should consider not just its own building but its supply chain and the local environment when reviewing its safeguarding strategy. Protocols will need to be developed at each venue for handling deliveries safely and for working with external contractors.

Special considerations

In addition to the guidance provided in Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues, there are a number of specific considerations that apply to cinema settings.

Staff

  • where staff have been furloughed (or new staff are to be appointed), organisations will need to plan for appropriate notice periods for their return to work.
  • flexible training will need to be put in place to bring staff up to speed on all new ways of working, and organisations will need to arrange training in a way which does not expose staff to high-risk environments.;
  • minimum safe staffing levels will need to be considered against a new backdrop of potential levels of infection and repeated isolation requests as a result of Test, Trace, Protect activity in Wales. 

Bookings

  • managing audience numbers will be critical in supporting social distancing and understanding potential pressure points in advance. 
  • as part of a phased reopening, cinemas should implement ways of working which allow them to plan for social distancing. Those who are not currently supported by automated on-line booking systems should consider implementing telephone or email bookings.
  • consider how your booking systems could support Test, Trace, Protect activity in the event of an audience member, volunteer, or member of staff becoming unwell soon after being on the premises (taking account of data protection issues and the need to explain to people how and why their data is being kept and how it will be used) (see Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues). 
  • working differently by considering creative approaches to screening could help with commercial viability. For example, a family-only screening will permit different social distancing measures in an auditorium, allowing a larger percentage of seats to be occupied since members of the same households or extended households will not need to distance from each other. (The regulations on indoor gatherings will apply – see Regulation 14 in the Covid-19 regulations.) You may want to consider trialling approaches undertaken by supermarkets during lockdown, allowing early daytime screenings for clinically vulnerable groups. Outdoor screenings, or drive-in events could also be viable where practicable.

Managing queues and moving around the building

  • you must consider the need for physical adaptations to your building, and how these adaptations could successfully support your workforce, contractors and the public. Perspex screens, one-way routes, signage for social distancing, equipment, ways of leaving and entering the building and managing potential queues internally and externally will be important aspects of your planning.

Refreshments and catering

Events and parties

  • it is not recommended that cinemas reinstate events and parties in the early phases of reopening in line with the regulations on indoor gatherings.

Supply chains

  • cinemas should consider and implement appropriate handling protocols for deliveries and for working with any on-site contractors.

Cleaning and hygiene regimes

In addition to the measures suggested in Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues consider:

  • implementing increased cleaning regimes throughout the building, with a particular focus on preventing transmission via contaminated surfaces. Consider objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as counters, doorplates, handrails, ticket ATMs, cash registers, handheld devices etc. Implement enhanced cleaning for busy areas.
  • scheduling screenings to allow staff time to undertake necessary cleaning before the next audience arrives.
  • providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
  • providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms. If possible, provide hand sanitiser outside and encourage the public to use it before entering the building.

Cinemas which operate as part of arts venues should also refer to Arts venues, including concert halls and theatres relating to arts venues.  

Cinemas with protected historic interiors should follow the guidance in Historic buildings and historic gardens.

Useful links

These links are being provided as useful information only, and may refer to guidance produced outside Wales. You should always consider any information contained in these links within the context of Welsh Government legislation, which must take precedence. 
 
UK Cinema Association: keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 

Drive-In and other outdoor cinemas: keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19.

Arts venues, including concert halls and theatres

The Welsh Government recognises that arts venues, concert halls and theatres vary significantly in nature, size and operation. 

The general principles in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications' in this information apply to this sector, although it is recognised that there are some issues specific to arts venues that are considered here. 

Planning for reopening

The road back to reopening for arts venues will be enormously challenging, with the sector likely to be mostly in the green roadmap phase in terms of emerging from lockdown, although some venues may be able to consider a scaled reopening in the amber phase. How this will work in practice will be determined by the announcements made by the First Minister in his 21 day reviews.

When planning for reopening, arts venues will need to be proactive about working differently, acknowledging that reopening cannot be about returning to the same management of audiences and facilities as existed prior to lockdown. 

Each venue will need to undertake its own assessment of how to implement the COVID-19 regulations noting that there will inevitably be a significant reduction to seating capacity. Most, if not all, will have to make significant physical and operational changes to the way that they provide access and manage how visitors move around their buildings whilst meeting social distancing requirements.

Many producers have already had to cancel or postpone work. None are yet in a position to confidently re book their future tours, and it is likely to take several months once restrictions are eased before touring productions or orchestras will be seen live on stage. Without a full programme of performances and full auditoriums, some venues might conclude that it is not economically viable to open. 

The timely resumption of production and performance will depend on the individual artists and freelancers who sustain the arts in Wales. Most have had 100% of their work cancelled. Some will have been forced to seek other employment outside the creative industries. Re-engaging freelancers quickly – and in sufficient numbers – could therefore present an additional challenge.

Re-introducing school programmes and visits will require working closely with schools and education services and must be in line with COVID-19 regulations. 

Special considerations

In addition to the list of considerations provided in 'Guidance for reopening of culture and heritage destinations and venues' and 'Communications', there are some specific considerations relevant to those who manage arts venues including:

Fabric of buildings:

  • many arts venues are historic listed assets or are of such a scale that they require regular and costly specialised care. Early discussions with the local planning authority on the need for listed building consent will be needed if physical changes are required to the building to accommodate social distancing (see Historic buildings and historic gardens). A prolonged period of hibernation risks business critical deterioration of the fabric of buildings, the extent of which will only be realised as they reopen. There will be significant pressure on those providing equipment hire and contractor services. Theatres and concert halls are also subject to mandated safety checks. These issues must be factored into any plans for a safe reopening. 
  • it will be necessary to ensure that any work equipment that was due to be inspected during the shutdown has been inspected, and that building and facilities maintenance is up to date.

Cleaning and hygiene regimes:

  • increased cleaning regimes should be implemented throughout the building, with a particular focus on preventing transmission via contaminated surfaces. Think about objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as counters, doorplates, handrails, ticket ATMs, cash registers, handheld devices etc. Implement enhanced cleaning for busy areas. 'Communications' above provides high level considerations for cleaning and hygiene arrangements. 
  • schedule performances to allow staff time to undertake necessary cleaning before the next audience arrives.
  • provide regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
  • provide hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms. If possible, provide hand sanitiser outside and encourage the public to use it before entering the building.

Social distancing

  • the implications of social distancing will be most venues’ principal concern. Implementing social distancing will affect venues’ business models. This loss will be further exacerbated by lower merchandise sales. It is accepted that there is clearly a capacity below which it will be uneconomic for venues to reopen, and it will therefore be for each venue to decide when reopening becomes commercially viable.
  • the behaviour of audiences once at a venue will need to be considered. When programming and curating an exhibition, consider how long it takes an audience member to circulate, what is the dwell time for an area, how areas of higher interest are managed and how to distribute audience circulation and viewing times.
  • you must consider the need for physical adaptations to your building, and how these adaptations could successfully safeguard your workforce, contractors and the public. Perspex screens, one way routes, signage for social distancing, equipment, ways of leaving and entering the building and managing potential queues internally and externally will be important aspects of your planning.
  • careful attention should be given to managing “touch” exhibits,
    - headphones in sound installations: it might be necessary to offer bluetooth enabled or downloadable touring guides. Any headphones provided for attendees would need to be thoroughly cleaned after every use with a wet wipe containing disinfectant.
    - Children’s interaction areas: consider seating areas e.g. benches, cushions etc, and/or encourage people to bring folding chairs.

Programming, production and facilities

  • matching the programme of activity to the particular requirements of each venue will need a bespoke approach. A key question will be the extent to which the risk of COVID-19 transmission risks can be removed or mitigated.
  • consider working co-operatively with other organisations and traditional competitors to mitigate the cost of producing work.
  • consider the staging of work outdoors or in alternative spaces, if this can be made to work on a financially viable basis.
  • touring events and companies will need to comply with the venue’s COVID-19 policies, and they should be made aware of these policies before their arrival at your venue.
  • consider putting in place alternative strategies that avoid the need for walk-throughs, such as CAD drawings and technical specifications with images etc
  • ensure project delivery dates have sufficient contingency factored in as supply chains are likely to face disruption.
  • consider the scale of the set or art installation, ensuring that production schedules take account of cleaning, staff orientation, and pre-event safety inspections. 

Bookings and cancellations

  • organisations will want to consider whether they need alternative programming arrangements in place, in the event of elements of the planned programme falling through.
  • plans and protocols will need to be in place in case events need to be cancelled or postponed. You should clarify the cancellation elements of your contracts.
  • update ticketing information with terms and conditions for show cancellation and refund policy.
  • revise venue rental contracts to consider cancellation policy. 
  • support and sustain existing links within the community. Consider how you can create accessibility for COVID-19 vulnerable groups.
  • consider how your booking systems could support Test, Trace, Protect activity in the event of an audience member, volunteer, or member of staff becoming unwell soon after being on premises (taking account of data protection issues and the need to explain to people how and why their data is being kept and how it will be used). Those who are not currently supported by automated on-line booking systems should consider implementing telephone or email bookings.

Flexible training will need to be put in place to bring staff up to speed on all these new ways of working, and organisations will need to arrange training in a way which does not expose staff to high risk environments.

Arts venues which operate as art galleries should also refer to Museums and art galleries

Arts venues which operate as cinemas should also refer to Cinemas.

Useful links

These links are being provided as useful information only, and may refer to guidance produced outside Wales. You should always consider any information contained in these links within the context of Welsh Government legislation, which must take precedence.
    
Theatre Forum: Reopening arts centres guidelines

GOV.UK: Information for DCMS sectors in response to coronavirus.

Sector input

This guidance document has been drafted by officials working in the Culture, Sport and Tourism directorate of the Welsh Government. It is one of a suite of guidance documents covering culture and heritage, sport, tourism, and outdoor venues.

In preparing this document, we consulted with the following:

  • Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
  • ARCW representatives
  • Arts Council of Wales
  • Community Leisure UK
  • Ffilm Cymru
  • Jane Henderson, Cardiff University 
  • National Botanic Garden of Wales
  • National Parks Authorities
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
  • Society of Chief Librarians
  • Tai Hanesyddol / Historic Houses
  • The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales
  • The Institute of Conservation
  • The National Library of Wales
  • The National Trust in Wales
  • UK Cinema Association
  • WLGA.

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