The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has impacted museums across the world.
You, your staff, and your volunteers should be your main point of concern at this time—the most important first step is knowing that you must take care of yourself, and take care of one another.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended social distancing—a practice in which individuals avoid any non-essential travel, keep at least six feet away from other individuals, avoid eating at restaurants, and avoid patronizing any non-essential businesses. For more information on appropriate social distancing and why it is important, see this helpful page from the Red Cross (Updated May 13th, 2020.)
The CDC has a website for Covid-19, providing up-to-date information and statistics.
As does the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO also provides a separate page dedicated to advising the public on precautions and other protective measures that they can be taking. This includes a section dedicated to dispelling myths and rumors about the virus. Is is important that you get your information from reliable scientific sources in order to act in the safest possible manner.
Many states have also implemented “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” orders, which officially mandate that all non-essential businesses close to the public. This includes your museum. The New York Times—which has temporarily lifted its paywall on all Covid-19 related content—has this frequently-updating map showing which states have begun issuing policies.
If your museum is in a state or a city with a shelter-in-place or a stay-at-home order, you are legally required to close to the public. As of May 15th, a number of states are letting their stay-at-home orders expire, meaning that their states have been allowing places to open up.
Some states have been opening in phases, meaning that certain businesses will open first, and others will open later. Check with your state/country on the current status of business openings and contact your staff and board to determine the best and safest way your institution can proceed.
The American Alliance of Museums has provided a guide to re-opening for museums.
The CDC has provided a guide to re-opening businesses of all sorts, which includes guides for cleaning/disinfecting and EPA-approved disinfectants.
As you and your institution decide how to proceed, please remember that the health and well being of your community, your staff, your volunteers, and yourself is vital. Take care of yourselves and take care of one another.
The closing of your museum will have a financial impact on not only your institution, but on your staff as well. In the United States, some measures are underway to hopefully alleviate the fiscal burden on both.
Here is an NPR Report on a Covid-19 Relief Bill
The US Department of Labor’s website on Unemployment Insurance with additional information on changes to Unemployment Insurance during Covid-19
This website on how to find unemployment benefits in your state
American Alliance of Museums (AAM)’s Directory of Resources