Scottish museums to reopen in third phase of government exit plan
Geraldine Kendall Adams, 21.05.2020
Steps out of lockdown will be 'careful, gradual and incremental'
Scotland’s museums and galleries will reopen in the third phase of the country’s route map out of the Covid-19 lockdown, which was unveiled by first minister Nicola Sturgeon this week.
Lockdown restrictions will start to be eased from next week in the first phase of the plan, with garden centres reopening and more outdoor activities allowed. The route map does not set definite dates for future phases, but the government says it will review its plans every three weeks to “report on whether and to what extent we can move from one phase to another”.
This means the earliest date the country could move to phase three is the second week of July. Unlike the exit strategies published by other nations, the Scottish government gives no specific indication that outdoor cultural and heritage sites may reopen in an earlier phase, although the plan states that non-essential outdoor workplaces can reopen in phase one, and some leisure amenities such as outdoor pubs and restaurants can reopen in phase two.
The document states: “We will continue to take a cautious approach that ensures that the virus remains suppressed, while seeking to restore as much normality as possible when it is safe to do so.”
Scotland’s museums and galleries are warning that they have been severely impacted by the crisis, with many independent institutions saying they face financial disaster before the end of the summer. Museum stakeholders are lobbying the Scottish government for a financial relief package to support the sector’s recovery.
Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has confirmed that more than 30 museums and galleries across Scotland have so far been awarded grants from its Covid-19 emergency funding streams. Six museums have received Urgent Response Fund grants to cover their core running costs, while 30 institutions have benefited from the Digital Resilience Fund.
MGS chief executive, Lucy Casot, said: "We are in daily contact with the sector and are highly aware of the challenges faced by them, especially by independent museums, who have been particularly hard-hit through loss of income.
"At a time when many museums and galleries are facing financial and organisational uncertainty, we are ensuring that our emergency funds are assessed on a rolling basis, are processed as quickly as possible, and remain responsive to the sector’s needs.
“We are working with the sector, the Scottish government, and other organisations to support museums and galleries through the process of reopening after lockdown, so that they can welcome visitors once again to enjoy and be inspired by the collections they care for.”
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