There is now updated guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.
Latest information for museums during COVID-19
Last updated 10.00, 4th May 2021
We have summarised and signposted the most relevant sources of information for museums in the South West below.
We regularly check and update the information on this page – as the situation develops over the coming months, this page can be used as a hub of useful links and resources, whatever scenario your museum is currently facing.
- Please sign up for our newsletter for the latest news, opportunities and regular top tips related to the themes digital, audiences, collections and volunteering from the team. Read our archive of past issues.
- If you would like any support or guidance on anything mentioned below, please get in touch with the team via our contact form.
We feel one of our top priorities is looking after the wellbeing of each of us individually and of those we work and volunteer with.
It is more important than ever that we mobilise the communities that have been formed within museums across the South West to support each other in the coming months. Reach out to those you work with, talk about how you are feeling and in turn listen and be open in your dialogue, join people together as we know you have been doing in such uplifting ways in the past year.
The South West Museum Development team is here to support you.
1. National Guidance
As the response to the pandemic continues, guidance is being developed to help organisations plan for the coming months.
Latest Announcements –
Easing Restrictions Roadmap (Spring 2021)
The Prime Minister released the much anticipated ‘Roadmap’ for easing of restrictions on Monday 22nd February 2021, detailing the easing of restrictions in England.
The roadmap sets out each stage of the process in four steps – examining and reassessing the data and impact before progressing to the following step.
Read the latest Good practice guidance for reopening museums.
Key Dates and information for Museums and Galleries:
- Step 1 – From 8th March – Schools will reopen with testing and year group bubbles. Outdoor sections of sculpture parks can reopen.
- Step 2 – From 12th April – Outdoor sections of museums and galleries can reopen. Shops (inc. museum gift shops) and cafes can reopen where in a self-contained unit that can be accessed from a place outside the premises used for the closed business. Outdoor areas at cafes, restaurants etc can reopen, and customers are allowed to use toilets located inside. Cafes can provide takeaways, or service on the premises as long as they only provide seating outdoors. Customers must remain seated outdoors while consuming food and drink. If they serve alcohol, they must only provide table service.
- Step 3 – From 17th May – Museums will be allowed to reopen.
- Step 4 – From 21st June – The government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.
Read the Government Guidance in full (available in several formats).
Read the Prime Minister’s Oral Statement to Parliament on 22nd February 2021.
There is now guidance on Reopening businesses and venues in England published on 24th February 2021, detailing the steps to reopen certain businesses and venues in England.
You must ask every customer or visitor to scan the QR code using their NHS COVID-19 app or provide their name and contact details, not just a lead member of the group. Find out more on the Government test and trace pages.
Terms of reference for reviews committed to in the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’
You can now read the Spring 2021 Reviews Terms of Reference.
- Covid-status Certification Review
- Events Research Programme
- Global Travel Taskforce
- Social Distancing Review
Guidance for offices contact centres and similar indoor environments.
COVID-19 Testing Guidance
The Government has now released Covid testing guidance for employers
- All businesses with workers in England who cannot work from home can sign up for the free rapid asymptomatic workplace testing programme.
- This now includes businesses with less than 50 employees, charities, ALBs and public sector organisations.
- Businesses will need to register by 31 March even if they are currently closed, and free tests will be provided until the end of June 2021.
- It is recommended that private-sector employers offer their workforce (who are on-site) access to a minimum of 2 lateral flow tests every week. This will help identify staff who are carrying the virus without displaying symptoms, reducing the risk of transmission.
- Every employer and every sector is unique. So, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) aims to be pragmatic about which delivery channels can be used.
Option 1: employer-led set-up (DIY):
Employers can set up their own on-site testing programmes, outside of that which currently exists with the NHS Test and Trace service.
Option 2: use a third-party provider:
Employers who would like on-site testing but would prefer an accredited private provider to organise and run the testing on their behalf can partner with one of the providers on the list of providers: general testing.
Option 3: community testing:
For organisations in the public and private sector that have fewer than 50 employees, access to testing is through local authorities who are establishing testing sites for those without symptoms within their local areas.
If you require support or advice, please contact your local Museum Development Officer, or get in touch.
2. Reopening Support
Reopening Guidelines and Checklist
The Coronavirus Covid-19 NMDC Good Practice Guidelines on Reopening Museums have been updated in line with the new restrictions, as of February 2021. This document still includes information and guidance to consider for potential reopening in the coming months.
In June 2020, as part of the Museum Development Network, we worked with the Association of Independent Museums to produce A Checklist for Re-opening Your Museum. Although the scope of the pandemic impact has since changed, this checklist may still be helpful for your reopening plans in 2021.
The checklist covers nine Principles to inform decision making within your museum. See our news post for further information on the Checklist.
Rapid Lateral Flow Tests Kits for Organisations’ Employees or Volunteers
The Volunteering Team at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department of Health and Social Care have provided the sector with clarity on advice Rapid Lateral Flow Tests Kits. These are for organisations wishing to apply to receive rapid lateral flow test kits (asymptomatic testing) to undertake testing of their staff who cannot work from home.
Employers can register to order free coronavirus free rapid lateral flow tests for their employees and volunteers who cannot work from home if:
- their business or organisation is registered in England
- their business or organisation employs 50 people or more (includes volunteers)
- their business or organisation’s employees cannot work from home
Please note, volunteers are included in the 50 or more employees headcount for organisations to be able to receive rapid lateral flow test kits (asymptomatic testing) – this means that an organisation with 50 or more volunteers who cannot work from home can sign up to receive the rapid lateral flow test kits as described below.
Any employer (including a charity or voluntary organisation) which has a Companies House registration number can register on GOV.UK to get the forms they need to order these tests for their employees.
Charities and voluntary organisations which do not hold a Companies House registration number will be unable to register online via GOV.UK to receive these tests as the system will only accept 8 digit business registration numbers.
To sign up, these organisations need to provide the information below via email to [email protected] with the email subject “National Workplace Testing – Charity”, and a team at DHSC will complete the validation process:
- Company name
- Charity number
- Number of employees
- Industry / sector
- Email contact
Test and Trace
The Government are encouraging the use of the NHS Test and Trace app, offering QR code check-in capability. Read more about the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace app.
There is a requirement for museum cafes and restaurants within museums to refuse entry to customers and visitors who do not provide the relevant contact details, or have not checked in with the QR code.
All the visitors can be admitted, provided that at least one of the group provides their name and contact details and agrees to be the ‘lead member’, or all of the group have checked in using the QR code. If no member of a group provides their name and contact details, all the group must be refused entry, with the exception of individuals who check-in using the QR code.
There is not a requirement to refuse entry to museums if visitors do not provide their contact details. However, details are collected as most museums are encouraging advance booking. If collecting when people arrive, visitors now have the option of scanning the QR code.
The guidance and regulations of the wearing of face coverings was updated on 12th March 2021. There is also guidance on the legislation on the Government website .
It is compulsory for retail, leisure and hospitality staff to wear a face covering in areas that are open to the public and where they come or are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public.
Visit Britain Kite Mark
Visit Britain created a ‘We’re Good to Go’ Industry Standard Kite Mark. This Kite Mark aims to reassure visitors and customers that Government and public health guidance is being followed. You can also read more COVID-19 guidance on the Visit Britain website.
Government Guidance for Heritage Locations
The Government updated the Guidance for Heritage Locations on 15 March 2021– this is for those operating, working and volunteering in heritage attractions (including open air site/museums and historic houses). This guidance was developed with input from Historic England, National Trust and other organisations.
Other reopening resources and guides
The Museum Association has published Organisational and Employment FAQs in relation to COVID-19 and reopening in museums.
- Digital Culture Network have published a resource about Ticketing for Museums (including timed ticketing considerations, GDPR and Test and Trace information)
- Kids in Museums have published a Guide to how to use their Manifesto to plan for reopening.
- Collections Trust have shared a guide from the Institute of Conservation (ICON) on ‘Waking up Collections’post-lockdown, looking at conservation issues that might have occurred during closure.
- Watch this great video by Mauritshuis museum in the Netherlands, a fun and engaging way to welcome visitors back and advise them of how to visit safely.
- The Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO) created a map giving an overview of European countries’ museum reopening plans, advice about security measures and their strategies.
If you require support or advice, please contact your local Museum Development Officer, or get in touch.
3. Recovery Funding and Grants
Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants
Applications are open for Project Grants – until 31 August 2021, the fund will focus on the needs of smaller independent organisations and individual practitioners
Arts Council England have released an applications update in February 2021 due to a high number of applications – If submitting an application for £15,000 or under allow up to 10 weeks to receive your decision. If submitting an application for over £15,000, allow up to 16 weeks to receive your decision.
Arts Council England have opened the fund with additional supplementary guidance which applies until 31 August 2021 to help fund independent organisations, creative practitioners and freelancers as quickly as possible.
If you are thinking about applying there is a large amount of guidance and FAQs on the Project Grants web pages.
Restart Grant: Guidance for local authorities
- The Restart Grant will be a one-off grant funding scheme in Financial Year 2021-22.
- It will support hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym business premises with one-off grants of up to £18,000 in Strand Two of the Restart Grant.
- Museums and art galleries are specifically listed under leisure businesses.
- Available from 1 April 2021 but applications can be submitted in advance.
The following thresholds apply for these businesses:
- Businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £8,000.
- Businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £12,000.
- Businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or over on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £18,000.
Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund
The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund is now open for applications:
- Two funding streams for collections engagement, both offering grants up to £90,000 over around two years.
- In total £1.3m will be awarded, anticipated to be 7-10 projects in each funding round.
- Expressions of interest deadlines:
- 26th April for grant awards in July
- 13 September for awards in December
Other grants providers
Keep up to date with the latest grant schemes offered by the following organisations:
We also share details of smaller funds in our monthly email bulletin – subscribe to our newsletter.
You may also consider subscribing to the GRIN email bulletin which features daily grants and funding updates or access to a grants database, for a small annual fee.
4. Job support
Government Kickstart Jobs Scheme
Become a host for the Government Kickstart job scheme. This is a 6-month job placements scheme for 16-24 year olds, running until June 2022, with £2 billion of government funding pledged towards it.
New information is coming out every day about this job creation scheme, intended to support 16-24 year olds to develop the skills that they will need to navigate a uniquely challenging job market. Employers that will host fewer than 30 placements, need to find a ‘Gateway’, or representative body, to apply for this funding on their behalf.
There have been significant changes to the Kickstart Scheme in 2021 and so we have updated this news post and set of FAQs about the Kickstart jobs scheme to help museums consider this opportunity.
If you decide to put your organisation forward to a Gateway, or if you are a volunteer led organisation and new to employing young people, get in touch with us through our email [email protected], using the subject line ‘Kickstart’ and your Museum’s name.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Government Furlough Scheme)
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30th September 2021 and the level of grant available to employers under the scheme will stay the same until 30th June 2021.
From 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant you must continue to pay your furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.
The table below shows the level of government contribution available in the coming months, the required employer contribution and the amount that the employee receives per month where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time.
Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.You can continue to choose to top up your employees’ wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at your own expense.
May June July August September Government contribution: wages for hours not worked 80% up to £2,500 80% up to £2,500 70% up to £2,187.50 60% up to £1,875 60% up to £1,875 Employer contribution: employer NI and pension contributions Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Employer contribution: wages for hours not worked No No 10% up to £312.50 20% up to £625 20% up to £625 For hours not worked employee receives 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month
Claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
To make a claim, you will need:
- to be registered for PAYE online
- your UK bank account number and sort code
- your employer PAYE scheme reference number
- the number of employees being furloughed
- each employee’s National Insurance number
- each employee’s payroll or employee number (optional)
- the start date and end date of the claim
- the full amount you’re claiming for including employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum pension contributions
- your phone number
- contact name
You also need to provide either:
- your name (or the employer’s name if you’re an agent)
- your Corporation Tax unique taxpayer reference
- your Self Assessment unique taxpayer reference
- your company registration number
Full information available on the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme website pages and read the guidance to check if you can claim for your employee’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant extension
The online claims service for the fourth grant of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be available from late April 2021 until 31 May 2021.
Self-employed individuals will receive 80% of their average trading profits for November, to make a total of 55% for the three months covered, up to £7,500. You can check if you are eligible for the scheme here.
- The fourth SEISS grant will be set at 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500.
- It will take into account 2019 to 2020 tax returns and will be open to those who became self-employed in tax year 2019 to 2020. The rest of the eligibility criteria remain unchanged.
- There will be a fifth and final grant covering May to September. You will be able to claim from late July if you are eligible for the fifth grant.
- The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.
- The fifth grant will be worth:
- 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more
- 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850, for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%
You also may find the resource page from the Museum Freelance Network useful if you are working as a freelancer in the sector.
South West Museum Skills Training
Our popular training programme for 2020/21 has closed for booking. Details on training sessions for Summer 2021 will be released in the coming months, as well as a suite of additional Plus sessions on specific themes. Please subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about our latest sessions.
Please check our training pages for the latest training sessions open for booking.
Our training is currently hosted online, aiming to be responsive and supportive during these challenging times. Our sessions are designed to help your museum and its workforce respond to the current situation and plan for the future. We may repeat some sessions, recognising a phased approach across the sector to returning to work/volunteer roles and reopening.
Addressing your training priorities
This time last year we asked you about your, and your museum’s training needs’, for you and your museum were. A lot has happened recently and we recognise that your development priorities may have now changed, so we are asking for your feedback to inform our SW Museum Skills Programme later this year. Let us know what your immediate and forthcoming training priorities by sharing your feedback here.
I am furloughed – can I access training?
Government rules state that you can complete training stipulated by your employer as long as it is not providing services or generating income for your museum.
- Check with your employer first before starting training if you are furloughed.
- You must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage if you undertake training (this differs for apprentices).
- The Furlough Scheme has just been extended, so be mindful of this when it comes to training over this period.
6. Accreditation and Governance Updates
Museum Accreditation Updates
Arts Council England paused the receipt and assessment of new applications and returns to the Museum Accreditation scheme. It did this to devote its energies to supporting museums deal with the exceptional circumstances posed by lockdown.
We shared a news post with an update on the Scheme, taking into account Arts Council England’s January 2021 update.
- Arts Council is instigating a phased approach to reopening, giving priority to first time applicants and those new to the Scheme.
- The current Accreditation status of museums, galleries and heritage organisations within the Scheme will be extended for another 12 months until April 2022.
- Museums with Accredited or Provisionally Accredited status are still able to apply for funding and access training which states Accreditation status as an eligibility criterion.
- Due to the evolving situation, the Scheme is subject to change. Further information will be shared in March 2021.
Arts Council England Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS)
This scheme offers an alternative to the cost of commercial insurance. It allows organisations to display art and cultural objects to the public that might not otherwise have been shown due to the high cost of insurance.
The scheme provides cost-free indemnity cover to borrowing institutions for loss or damage to art or cultural items on short or long-term loan. Objects can be intended for public display or study purposes.
Find out more about the Scheme on the Government Indemnity Scheme website.
March 2021 GIS team update – Ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus
- The GIS team recognise the Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive titled Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
- Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers: Emerging from Lockdown guidance
- GIS advice: ventilation is just one of a range of measures used to control the spread of viruses, and its use should be balanced against other negative impacts such as increased pollution, energy, noise, security, health, well-being and environmental conditions.
7. Volunteering updates
Government guidance on volunteering
The government have issued guidance (March 2021) for supporting volunteers and volunteer managers during the pandemic. Download the guidance here.
Government Roadmap – impact on volunteering
From 29th March, at Step 1B of the Roadmap out of lockdown, people will no longer be legally required to stay at home. Volunteers will no longer be legally required to undertake their volunteer role from home unless they cannot reasonably do so.
From this date, the Government advises that volunteers should continue to carry out tasks from home where possible, but can leave home to volunteer if they are not required to self-isolate for any reason.
- People can meet in groups of any size, indoors or outdoors, while volunteering.
- Volunteering which cannot be done from home can continue in closed business or venue while it remains closed to the public.
- Businesses/venues, community centres and libraries which are otherwise required to close or restrict their activities are permitted to open and be used, including by volunteers, for a number of specific purposes
- Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs and holiday lets, which are otherwise ordered to close, are permitted to open for people who need to stay for volunteering purposes.
Changes in advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people (1st April)
From 1st April 2021, clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield. As above, the advice is to continue to volunteer from home if possible. They can also choose to volunteer outside the home.
- Try to minimise number of social interactions
- Try to minimise time they spend in places where they can’t maintain social distancing
Call for evidence
The government has published:
- a call for evidence to ensure that the review considers a broad range of interests and concerns
- the Terms of Reference for the COVID-status certification review. The Terms of Reference document sets out, in broad terms, the objectives and scope of the review, and also the timetable for reporting.
Alongside this, DCMS are also working with the Cabinet Office to try to ensure the interests of volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations are included in consideration of certification.
Rapid Lateral Flow test kits
All charities can register directly on GOV.UK to order free coronavirus rapid lateral flow tests to carry out regular asymptomatic testing of their staff, including volunteers, who cannot work from home.
This is provided they are registered in England and their staff cannot work from home. Organisations must register on or before 31st March. This is a change from the previous setup where charities without Companies House registration numbers had to email DHSC directly.
For practical resources on Sustainable volunteering, see our archive of resources, or get in touch.
8. Audiences updates
Kids in Museums Manifesto – reopening
Kids in Museums have produced a guide to help museums provide a quality experience for children and families when they reopen with social distancing measures. The guide has plenty of links and advice to help your museum welcome families back when they are able to.
GEM – space for learning COVID secure guidance
GEM have produced some COVID secure guidance to help museums, galleries, heritage and performing arts sites adapt their learning spaces and programmes in response to Covid-19.
This guidance has been compiled by members of the Space for Learning: Covid Secure working group and individual task & finish groups, with support from the Clore Duffield Foundation, Engage, GEM and the Theatre Education Forum.
The guidance aims to help learning services and freelancers understand how to work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic, and provide a practical framework to think about what is needed to continue – or restart – learning services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Arts Marketing Association – Audience Diversity Academy 2021
Looking for specialist support and training to help diversify your audiences? Arts Marketing Association (AMA) will host their Audience Diversity Academy again in 2021.
This tailored programme supports museums to make lasting organisational change around Diversity and Inclusion, helping to grow confidence and new approaches to building better relationships with diverse audiences. The current programme is running until March 2021 but you can register your interest for September 2021.
Audience Agency ‘Covid-19 Cultural Participation Monitor’
To support cultural organisations in their preparedness to reopen, the Audience Agency has shared the findings from its ‘Covid-19 Cultural Participation Monitor’. This longitudinal survey helps to understand and track the changes in the public’s cultural participation through and beyond Covid-19 and the undeniable impact it has had on cultural services. The current report details the findings of the first wave of research from Autumn 2020 which will be added to over the coming months as the Audience Agency continues to research the continuing impacts of Covid-19 on cultural audiences.
You can find this report alongside other insightful audience research studies and resources on the Bounce Forward section of the Audience Agency’s website.
For practical resources on Audiences, see our archive of resources, or get in touch.
9. External support – helpful links
Online Learning and Webinars
Digital Culture Network – Join webinars, videos and resources to help support your digital skills including website optimisation and income generation.
The Arts Council England Tech Champions can help with one-to-one support and answer your key digital questions. Get in touch with the Tech Champions at [email protected]
Future Learn – Sign up for a variety of courses from core business skills to museum courses designed by universities
Arts Marketing Association – Offering free arts marketing webinars and regular Q&A sessions
One to one support opportunities
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy – Offering a Power Hour of consultancy support on income generation, fundraising and donor cultivation – scheme now extended to February 2021.
Real Ideas – Speak to the Real Ideas team (our bridge organisation for the south west) or join a webinar for more information on what they can offer.
Arts Council England – A central resource listing Government and wider support for organisations and individuals relevant to the cultural sector in consultation with DCMS.
Charity Commission – Read the published guidance from the most commonly asked questions from charities during COVID-19
Collections Trust – A section on resources for ‘Collections in Lockdown’
Culture24 – Digital Pathways resources to help you with digital tools and channels
Audience Agency – A variety of resources and webinars to support cultural organisations
Kids in Museums – Resources to support working with children and young people and activities for families
The Cultural Health & Wellbeing Alliance – A list of links to useful resources and advice on health and wellbeing
Bates Wells Solicitors – Free resources and features on legal support for your museum, including employment and solvency advice
Museum Association – Offering a suite of Museum Essentials online learning course (for MA members only)
Museum Freelance – Offering useful resources, guidance and links relating to museum freelancers.
Temporary pay walls removed
Crowdfunder – Waiving platform and other fees for freelancers/creative businesses if your orgnanisation is raising money in response to the effects of COVID-19 (e.g. Holburne Museum’s campaign)
Arts Professional – Free access to the Arts Professional CovidCulture articles, resources and online events
National Council for Voluntary Organisations – NCVO have an archive of Knowhow Coronavirus guidance and links supporting charities, voluntary organisations and volunteers. Some of these are now free to access. We thought this Virtual Teams resource was particularly helpful.
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy – Offering a virtual training for trustees and fundraisers to support your museum and develop leadership skills
Association of Cultural Enterprises – Online training modules including Retail Essentials and Licensing