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COVID-19 and Public Health Orders Update – April 8, 2021

COVID-19 cases are surging in British Columbia despite province-wide vaccination efforts. While the end of the pandemic is on the horizon, it is critical that all British Columbians work together to prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants to buy the time required for the vaccines to protect our communities.

At this time, public health orders (PHOs) permit museums, galleries, and cultural organizations to be open to the public, but we urge members to make decisions that they believe are in the best interest of their staff, volunteers, and community.

We will continue to monitor the latest public health updates and stay in contact with our partners in government and will notify members immediately if the current rules and guidelines change. We recommend visiting Worksafe BC for the latest information on PHOs that affect the museum sector.

Under the current orders (last updated March 12, 2021) museums, galleries, and cultural organizations must:

  • Cancel or restrict group visits, guided tours, public programs, and special or private events in excess of 50 patrons, in accordance with the provincial health officer’s order on gatherings and events.
  • For groups of fewer than 50 patrons, ensure there is adequate space in your facility to accommodate the group. See the COVID-19 Safety Plan for guidance on establishing occupancy limits.
  • Consider allowing access by appointment to ensure occupancy limits are followed.
  • Consider ways to limit the exchange of paper products. Provide information to visitors via websites, provide online ticket sales, and provide digital visitor guides and programs.
  • Manage the flow of people by implementing one-way walkways or marking off designated walking areas.
  • Provide physical barriers at admissions and gift shop counters. Reuse exhibition materials such as plexiglass display cases to create barriers where the physical distancing requirement cannot be maintained.
  • Consider self-guided tours or phone applications based on self-guided tours.
  • Develop a system where customers can call docents from their cell phones while on the property to get specific questions answered without the docents and customers having to be face-to-face. Install desk phones at docent stations to facilitate this capability.
  • Wash your hands using good hygiene practices after touching common items.
  • Install touchless, no-contact audio-visual displays (triggered by physical distance, RFID, or similar technology).
  • Prohibit the use of high-touch displays through signage or physical barriers. If they remain in use, consider the following controls:
    • Install hand sanitizing stations near displays
    • Increase the cleaning frequency of all touch displays
  • Restrict or limit personal items being stored in coatrooms, baggage holding areas, etc.
  • Control access to entry points for workers, customers, and deliveries. Consider having limited points of entry. If you have more than one door, considering designating doors for entry and exit.
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations at all facility entryways for everyone to use.
  • Post COVID-19 protocols using signage for both workers and customers throughout your facility.
  • Consider creating cohorts of workers who work together and who do not interact with other cohorts. This will assist in reducing transmission throughout the workplace in the event that a staff member becomes ill.
  • Increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors.

With the rise of more contagious variants and the third wave of COVID-19 cases in British Columbia, you may decide to introduce even more stringent measures to protect the safety of your staff, volunteers, and community. Until the current curve begins to flatten, you may wish to have your staff and volunteers work from home and shift your museum’s operations online.

If there are supports and resources that the BCMA can provide at this time, please do not hesitate to reach out (bcma@museum.bc.ca). 

To help you shift online, the BCMA has curated the following resources (past webinar recordings are available free of charge to BCMA members):

If you would like to connect with your peers for fun, informal conversation during this isolating time, consider attending Watercooler Wednesdays (the first Wednesday of the month) or Museum Manager Mondays (the third Monday of the month).