Coronavirus: Museums, Galleries and Historic Buildings

How will government policy support the re-opening of museums, galleries and historic buildings affected by the coronavirus pandemic? This briefing examines recent developments.

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In March 2020, the Government announced a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus. This included the closure of tourism sites, such as museums, galleries and historic buildings. In response to the pandemic, the Government introduced several measures to support businesses retain employees and to help businesses with their income. These include: 

On 5 May 2020, the parliamentary under secretary at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nigel Huddleston, stated that the Government had held “multiple recent discussions” with tourism businesses on developing guidance to help facilitate the re-opening of businesses. However, the Government would “continue to be guided by the latest medical advice”. Further, on 11 May 2020, the Government published its Covid-19 recovery strategy. In the strategy, the Government stated that its ambition was to open some leisure venues no earlier than 4 July 2020.

In addition to the Government’s measures, the National Lottery Heritage Fund recently announced a £50 million emergency fund for UK heritage organisations affected by the pandemic. Similarly, Arts Council England have made £160 million available for organisations and individuals in the cultural sector that have been impacted.

On 21 May 2020, Lord Cormack (Conservative) is due to ask Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to support (1) museums, (2) galleries, and (3) historic buildings open to the public, affected by the restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic”.

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