Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for museums, galleries and heritage attractions

Good practice guidelines for re-opening museums, galleries and heritage attractions during the coronavirus pandemic.

6 page PDF

222.5 kB

6 page PDF

222.5 kB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for museums, galleries and heritage attractions
Operational guide and checklist

6 page PDF

222.5 kB

Operational guide and checklist

Information about changing the workplace environment to protect your workforce.

As a minimum we expect:

  • enhanced health and safety measures to be in place before members of the workforce are asked to return to the workplace, including physical distancing guidance and hygiene measures, generally and at bottleneck situations
  • safe travel to work arrangements to be considered as part of a risk assessment, with any relevant reasonable adjustments adopted

Workforce: safe site planning and communications

It is vital steps are taken to ensure a safe working environment and related workforce confidence. This is best done through early, regular and ongoing engagement between organisations and their workforce. As it will take time to complete the necessary risk assessment, identify the relevant mitigation measures and put those measures in place, the engagement must have started well before a planned restart date (or ramp-up where fulfilment of public purpose has continued at less than full capacity).

It is important everyone understands the measures taken to establish the safe environment for the workforce as this is likely to have a significant impact on workforce confidence. Being and feeling safe will play an integral role in supporting a recovery of working practices.  

Workforce: enhanced hygiene

Good hygiene principles for non-healthcare settings

Hand hygiene

  • COVID-19 is spread when respiratory secretions from an infected person enters the mouth, nose or eyes of another. One way in which this can happen is by touching your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands. It is therefore important to avoid touching the face with unwashed hands and;
  • perform hand hygiene regularly and especially before and after eating
  • promote good hand hygiene for all staff/visitors/service users
  • ensure there are sufficient hand washing facilities and provision of alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) at key areas such as entry and exit points

Respiratory hygiene

Coughs and sneezes

  • catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and dispose of any tissues into a bin and wash hands immediately
  • if an individual does not have tissues to hand, they should catch coughs and sneezes in the crook of their elbow

Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser before eating and drinking, and after coughing, sneezing and going to the toilet.

Avoid direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.

Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use

The follow NHS Inform page also includes clear advice around hand and respiratory hygiene

Cleaning

Routine cleaning

Good hygiene principles for non-healthcare settings include

  • ensure regular detergent cleaning schedules and procedures are in place using a product which is active against bacteria and viruses
  • ensure regular (at least twice daily) cleaning of commonly touched objects and surfaces (telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks, counter tops etc). Examples should apply to the relevant setting

Environmental cleaning

  • information regards: Environmental decontamination (cleaning and disinfection) after a possible case has left a workplace or other non-healthcare setting should be summarised here and link to Core COVID-19 Information and Guidance for General (Non-Healthcare) Settings for further information.
  • if a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of contamination may be present (for example, where unwell individuals have slept such as a room or dormitory) or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE such as, an apron and gloves should be considered.

Legionella testing

There is an increased risk of Legionnaire’s Disease when buildings have been out of use, or not running at full capacity. This is because water systems may become stagnant when not in use, increasing the risk of legionella within water supplies. Many public and office buildings have been closed during the COVID-19 crisis, making legionella a legitimate concern as lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Health and Safety Executive have published advice on the risk of Legionella in buildings which are closed or running with reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 crisis on the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) website.

Building owners or operators should undertake a health and safety check of buildings, and deep cleaning prior to reopening where necessary, to mitigate risks. Read more information on the HSE website.

Workforce: physical distancing

Physical distancing is the other key plank of measures to create a safe working environment.

Factors organisations will want to consider include:

  • facility layout and signage with clear marking of two metre boundaries around the site and signage which reinforces expectations of members of the workforce at relevant points. (As English may not be the first language for everyone, organisations should consider how best to use visual material to reinforce messages.)
  • limiting access to parts of the site required by an individual to do their job as this will limit the chances for interaction with others
  • staggering entry and exit times to prevent bottlenecks arising as people arrive or leave
  • staggering break times and adjusting canteen arrangements to reduce opportunities for larger numbers of staff to interact on a face-to-face basis
  • splitting members of the workforce into specific teams to avoid cross-team contamination and provide a level of operational resilience in case someone in one team develops COVID-19 symptoms
  • considering opportunities to introduce additional technology support and systems to assist in managing the safe working practices and in particular physical distancing
  • considering use of PPE if appropriate

Shift patterns

Organisations may develop plans to change shift patterns to both protect members of the workforce and optimise capacity. This could include considering opportunities to reduce the need for travel at peak times and opportunities for flexible working patterns. For museums, galleries and heritage attractions this may involve the consideration of adapting their opening hours. This will require proper negotiation with trade union or workforce representatives if it involves a change in employee terms and conditions.     

Dealing with emergencies 

Protocols for dealing with emergencies, evacuations and accidents will be impacted by the need to maintain physical distancing while individuals who would normally lead or coordinate site responses in such situations may be amongst those working from home. Emergency, evacuation and accident response processes therefore need to be considered and reviewed to ensure effective arrangements are still in place. Everyone onsite should be familiar with new processes.

Consideration should be given to how any new visitor circulation measures will affect exiting the building; how physical distancing can be maintained at assembly points; and sanitising facilities for re-entry.

Workforce: travel to site

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) have provided COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings which reiterates that people should not travel to work if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms. The HPS advice and any subsequent safe travelling advice should be factored into company decisions on planned returns to work.

Transport Scotland have produced Guidance to assist the public to travel safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is important that the latest version of the Guidance is read.

Workforce: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The HPS guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings also offers advice on the use and disposal of PPE, confirming workplaces should use PPE consistent with local policies and in line with measures justified by a risk assessment. Both the Scottish Government and the HSE recommend a risk-based approach focused on a hierarchy of control which seeks to eliminate risks, combat risks at source, adapt workplaces to individual needs, ensure adequate staff training around processes to manage the risk and then use PPE where required. Where PPE is deemed necessary, an adequate supply and quality must be maintained which is provided free of charge to workers and freelance workers and which must fit properly.

It is important to note the difference between face masks and face coverings. Face masks are surgical or medical grade masks that are used in health and social care situations. Face coverings are made from cloth or other textiles that cover the mouth and nose, and through which you can breathe (e.g. a scarf). The use of face masks is not currently recommended for the general population. We have issued guidance on the personal use of face coverings.

Face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of your household. Face coverings must be worn in retail environments.

Consult the up to date advice on wearing face coverings as this may change with each review stage.

Security

The interpretation and use of any guidance should be considered in line with normal protective security operations and practices. Organisations should consult with and involve their security departments in the interpretation and implementation of the guidance.  In particular, security should be considered in any revised risk assessment.

We do not advise the removal or alteration of, or reduction in, existing protective security measures without providing clear recommendations (e.g. from the National Technical Authority/Police Counter Terrorism specialists) on how to maintain effective protective security. 

This should extend to measures not primarily intended to provide a protective security benefit, but nonetheless doing so, for example removal of street furniture that could make moving or queueing pedestrians more vulnerable to vehicle-as-a-weapon attacks. Organisations should ensure security staff feel safe, e.g. having access to appropriate PPE and hand-washing facilities, and that they are able and confident to raise any concerns.

Further detailed guidance on security is available from Centre for the protection of National Infrastructure and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

COVID symptoms within the workplace

The virus is expected to remain in the population for some time, even after lockdown restrictions have been eased and people begin to return to work. This will cause anxiety for people who will also want to understand how any outbreaks in the workplace will be handled. As part of risk assessments organisations should explore with trade union or workforce representatives how to respond should anyone develop symptoms while at work, including whether it is possible to identify any particular parts of the site the individual may have accessed or equipment used while symptomatic. As part of this consideration should be given how best to monitor health of all individuals in a workplace.

Members of the workforce have a responsibility to ensure they adhere to overall COVID-19 advice which says people with symptoms should remain at home and self-isolate. Organisations and members of their workforce should remain in regular communication throughout any period of self-isolation with organisations encouraged to work with trade union or workforce representatives to enable individuals to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate.

Safe home working

Home working will be new to many and may have been implemented at pace, without normal health and safety planning to ensure people have suitable working arrangements and equipment. Organisations should consider that, and how to best support working from home (for example, provision of laptops, mobile phones, video conferencing services etc.). Read advice on home working.

Outbreak management

Organisations should suspect an outbreak if there is either:

  • two or more linked cases (confirmed or suspected) of COVID-19 in a setting within 14 days - where cross transmission has been identified

 or

  • an increase in staff absence rates, in a setting, due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19​​​​​​​

If an organisation suspects a COVID-19 outbreak, they should immediately inform their local NHS board Health Protection Team (HPT). The organisation may be then contacted by them, as they may get information from NHS Test & Protect or other sources.

In the event of an outbreak:

  • continue to follow 'General Guidelines' to reduce risk, as detailed above
  • the local Health Protection Team will undertake a risk assessment and conduct a rapid investigation. They will advise on the most appropriate action to take.
  • staff who have had close contact with case(s) will be asked to self-isolate at home. In some cases, a larger number of other staff may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, the local health protection team will take this into account in determining whether closure of the whole setting will be necessary
  • depending on the risk assessment outcome, the Health Protection Team may establish an Incident Management Team (IMT) to help manage the situation
  • the Incident Management Team will lead the Public Health response and investigations, and work with the organisation to put appropriate interventions in place

To control an outbreak the Health Protection Team and Incident Management Team will work with the organisation to put appropriate interventions in place. These will generally include ensuring that the preventive measures described in 'General guidelines to prevent spread of COVID-19' (detailed above) are fully implemented. Other measures may include:

  • cleaning in the setting - for cleaning and waste management, refer to guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings for maintaining hygiene.
  • consider wider testing of affected population and staff
  • information - ensure that staff (and other relevant people) are aware of what has happened and the actions being taken
  • closure - may be done following advice from the Health Protection Team and Incident Management Team or the business may make their own decision on closure ahead of this advice as a precaution or for business continuity reasons

The Health Protection Team or Incident Management Team will declare when the outbreak is over.

Working with heritage collections, exhibitions and buildings

Caring for collections on behalf of the public in perpetuity, and making exhibitions for the benefit of the public is at the core of what museums and galleries do. As a result it is expected that museums, galleries and heritage attractions will:

  • continue collections care and management, working within existing rigorous collections care standards
  • consider exhibition and loan schedules and content, including:
    • that exhibitions and interpretation may need to be adapted to prepare for visitors
    • extra time may be needed to prepare exhibitions, especially when working with loans
    • the availability of freelance technicians and other specialists may be reduced by venues simultaneously planning re-opening, and by the extended install and de-install times required for safe distancing
    • some exhibitions may no longer be viable and alternatives may need to be developed
    • delays may impact the repatriation or availability of loans for exhibitions
    • delays may impact the livelihood of artists, designers and freelance technicians making work for a particular exhibition
  • museums, galleries and heritage attractions should refer to up-to-date information on the Government Indemnity Scheme

In the case of historic buildings and structures, it is especially important that additional measures are appropriate for the site, for example:

  • installation of screens, signage and distance markers must be done in a sensitive way so as to not cause damage
  • cleaning and disinfecting processes and regimes must be given additional consideration. Some historic surfaces are vulnerable to damage through inappropriate cleaning, so consider alternative approaches that will achieve the same results
  • leaving an appropriate period of time before the area is accessed
  • using appropriate cleaning materials
  • or temporary non-damaging covers that can be put over the sensitive surfaces, which can then be subject to standard cleaning regimes

If works affect a scheduled monument or a listed building, check whether the works require consent before beginning work.

When preparing for reopening collections, specialist advice may need to be sought to identify any impact which may have occurred during periods of restricted access. For further advice on how to address collection conservation issues that might have occurred during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown period see the Waking up Collections – A Post Lockdown Guide and Checklist published by the Institute of Conservation (Icon) and the Icon Care of Collections Group. Where collections cannot be opened for a prolonged time due consideration should be given to regular monitoring and physical checks.

See also fulfilling public purpose section.

Changing the public environment to protect the public

As a minimum we expect:

  • enhanced health and safety measures to be in place before the public are allowed to return to public areas, including clear and robust communications regarding physical distancing guidance, hygiene measures and PPE if appropriate, generally and at bottleneck situations 
  • local contexts for travel and parking to be considered as part of a risk assessment, with any relevant adjustments adopted

It may be useful to refer to relevant section of the NHS Inform website

In particular the following sections:

The public: safe site planning and communications

It is vital steps are taken to ensure a safe environment for the public, and related public confidence. This is best done through early, regular and ongoing engagement between organisations, the workforce and the public. As it will take time to complete the necessary risk assessment, identify the relevant mitigation measures and put those measures in place, the engagement must be started well before a planned restart date (or ramp-up where  fulfilment of public purpose has continued at less than full capacity).

It is important everyone understands the measures taken to establish the safe environment for the public as this is likely to have a significant impact on public confidence. Being and  feeling safe will play an integral role in supporting a recovery in the sector’s fulfilment of public purpose.  

To address risk, organisations should consider limiting visitor numbers to enable 2 metre distancing at all times, and ensuring a visitor flow in all buildings that minimises risk of contact. A visitor charter may be helpful, this would set out requirements for how everyone behaves on a site, including entering and leaving the site, clarifying responsibilities for all around maintaining good hygiene and physical distancing.

Making changes to the visitor experience

Museums, galleries and heritage attractions need to consider what changes should be made to the visitor experience and public facilities to protect the public and workforce while visitors are on site. This might include:

  • specific invigilation to encourage safety measures
  • timed ticketing and pre-booking for venue entry
  • adapting, reducing or preventing use of interactives
  • altering use of public spaces, i.e. outdoor spaces and learning spaces, including: rules for accessing them, activities permitted, and ensuring standards are met for social distancing and cleaning
  • adaption of toilet provision including: clear and through cleaning guidelines, and measures to ensure social distancing
  • alternatives for learning and engagement, including: smaller groups, pre-booking, outdoor activities, online learning and events, and cleaning of any audio guides between users 
  • see also enhanced hygiene and physical distancing below

The public: enhanced hygiene

Enhanced hygiene measures should be a key plank of measures to create a safe public environment, including for example:

  • sanitiser and hand-washing facilities at key points, including on entry and exit points
  • additional sanitiser and handwash facilities around communal areas
  • regular cleaning of equipment including considering how often and where deep cleans may be required
  • minimising the use of touchpoints throughout buildings, including exploring where possible how digital processes or systems may replace the need for face-to-face discussion 

The public: physical distancing

Physical distancing is the other key plank of measures to create a safe public environment.

Factors organisations will want to consider include:

  • changes to visitor flow including one-way systems
  • facility layout and signage with clear marking of two metre boundaries around the site and signage which reinforces expectations of the public at relevant points. (As English may not be the first language for everyone, organisations should consider how best to use visual material to reinforce messages.) One-way systems should be considered
  • increased capacity for queueing, including: spaced queuing systems, use of foyers and assembly areas for queuing and circulation, employment of traffic light system, or ‘wait’/‘stop’ signs in busy areas
  • pre-booking of visits, including members, and use of ticketed time-slots
  • limiting access to parts of the site required by the public during visits, as this will limit the chances for interaction with others
  • monitoring use of lifts and stairs
  • staggering entry and exit times to prevent bottlenecks arising as people arrive or leave
  • altering provision of café and other communal spaces for visitors
  • considering opportunities to introduce additional technology support and systems to assist in managing the safe practice and in particular physical distancing
  • where historic parks, gardens and archaeological sites are open to the public, it may be necessary to create new visitor routes and one-way systems. Ideally these should be temporary and fully reversible, such as creating new mown paths in grassland. Such routes should be placed 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 archaeological features. New routes should be closely monitored and closed off and others created, if visitor erosion becomes a problem

The public: travel and face coverings

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) have provided COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings which reiterates that people should not travel if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms.

Transport Scotland has produced guidance to assist the public to travel safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is important that the latest version of the guidance is read.

Face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of your household. Face coverings must be worn in retail environments.

Consult the up to date advice on wearing face coverings as this may change with each review stage.

COVID symptoms within the visiting public

The virus is expected to remain in the population for some time, even after lockdown restrictions have been eased and people begin to return to Museums, galleries and heritage attractions. This will cause anxiety for people who will also want to understand how any outbreaks in the public buildings will be handled. As part of risk assessments organisations should decide how to respond should anyone develop symptoms while at their site, including whether it is possible to identify any particular parts of the site the individual may have accessed or equipment used while symptomatic. As part of this consideration should be given how best to monitor health of all individuals on site, and to ensure that robust environmental cleaning measures are put in place.

The public has a responsibility to ensure they adhere to overall COVID-19 advice which says people with symptoms should remain at home and self-isolate.

Guidance for organisations preparing food

Food Standards Scotland  has published guidance  to supplement generic guidance for consumers and food businesses. It translates Scottish Government guidance on ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): business and physical distancing guidance’ and the advice published by Health Protection Scotland for Non-Healthcare settings for application in food settings. This guidance also takes account of guidelines produced by the food industry on practical ways to provide a safe working environment at this time. FSS has also produced Guidance for the businesses take-away sector which should be referred to.

Any organisations with queries or concerns regarding food safety practices in their premises should contact their local authority environmental health department for advice.

Guidance for visitors

Whilst the majority of visitors will take due care and pay attention whilst visiting at this difficult time, there may be instances where guidance is not being followed. The Scottish Government wishes to re-enforce the message that visitors have a strong role to play in ensuring attractions are able to serve the public whilst also protecting their workforce. We have, therefore, published customer guidance.

Toilets

Guidance on the safe use of public and customer toilet facilities is available.

Checklist

We have developed a checklist to support organisations implement this guidance in response to initial feedback.

Page updated: 10 July 2020 


First published: 6 Jul 2020 Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 -