There are a number of measures required for the safe reopening of businesses. Museums must ensure that social distancing, which will continue for some time even after lockdown has been lifted, can be implemented safely and responsibly.
Specialists estimate that it will take businesses about 3 or 4 weeks to prepare their sites for reopening. This includes establishing clear guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Public Health England has said that one of greatest factors to consider is that the public will not only want to be safe as they return to leisure businesses, but they will want to feel safe.
The Health and Safety Executive has also added that museums should undertake comprehensive health and safety checks on all aspects of their businesses, as many sites have been unoccupied for several weeks.
Periodic security checks on your museum and its collections can be considered ‘essential work’. One needs to have the Museum Director/Manager/Trustee write a letter granting a named member of staff permission to check on the security of the building and collection during lockdown.
The key to the successful recovery of this sector is building and maintaining customer confidence. Museums should only reopen when they feel it is safe and responsible to do so.
If your museum has been shut for over a month, you should undertake safety checks and cleaning measures, as well as reviewing and updating risk assessments.
Threats from Fire and Water
In addition to security of the building and collections, you will also need to consider other threats – such as fire and flood damage. Some fire services will no longer respond to a fire alarm unless there is a second verification that the alarm is real (i.e. like a phone call from someone on site). This could be an issue for your museum during lockdown, if no one is working on the site. Your museum may want to contact your local fire service to confirm your own response policy.
Under the lock down restrictions, security visits to sites are permitted, and it would be wise to include fire and water ingress checks as well as your routine security checks.
Questions to ask yourself
- Have you checked the security of your premises prior to re-opening?
- Have you checked your alarms are working?
- Have you carried out a thorough health and safety risk assessment to ensure it is safe to open?
- Have you contacted your insurers to keep them informed?
- Have you communicated with your team to ensure they feel safe?
- Do you need additional support or facilities for people to access emergency services if required?
“This was the single most famous property theft outside war time.”
Noah Charney on the theft of the Mona Lisa by Vincenzo Peruggia, 1911
Keeping your collections safe during lock down from South East Museum Development Programme (SEMDP)
Government advice on financial support for businesses
Arts Council England’s advice on meeting security and environmental requirements for the Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS):
Security checklist from South East Museum Development Programme (SEMDP)
CPNI Security Minded Communications Guidance for Virtual Tours