Natural History Museum and Edinburgh Castle closed by Covid | Museums
At least five national attractions, including the Natural History Museum and Edinburgh Castle, have closed due to the surge in Covid cases.
The start of the Christmas school holidays is usually one of the busiest times at the Natural History Museum, but it will be closed from Tuesday “due to an unforeseen staff shortage”.
Other museums closed due to Covid include the one in London Welcome collection in Euston, the National Army Museum in Chelsea, and the Museum of the Foundling in Bloomsbury. The British Museum remains open but has warned visitors that some galleries may need to close in the short term.
The Natural History Museum, the UK’s second most visited museum after Tate Modern, has said it will remain closed for at least a week.
âWe have made the difficult decision to close our South Kensington site from Tuesday, December 21 due to reception staff shortages that have been affected by Covid-19 infections and isolation requirements. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but the safety of staff and visitors should always come first, âhe said.
âIf you have purchased Wildlife Photographer of the Year or Fantastic Beasts: Nature’s Wonder tickets for these dates, these will be canceled and refunded. If you have purchased tickets for one of our events, we will send you an email with more information.
The museum’s ice rink, last operated outside the building this year, will remain open.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s second most-visited attraction, announced a temporary closure on Sunday that remains in place.
In one series of tweets, he said: “We are sorry to inform you that we will be temporarily closing the castle from 4pm today [Sunday] following a number of staff members who tested positive for the coronavirus. All identified personnel now self-isolate. “
The Wellcome Collection in Euston, north London, on Friday announced that it was also due to close until further notice after a spate of cases.
The Foundling Museum said it had made the “difficult decision” to close over the Christmas period and would not reopen until Jan. 4. The National Army Museum said it will be closed until January 5 “due to the impact of Covid-19”.
The Museum Association journal reports that many museums have postponed or canceled events and rethought their plans for the New Year. A source at an anonymous London museum said it was struggling to keep all of its galleries open after a Covid outbreak among staff.
The source was quoted as saying, âIt seems a little irresponsible to us to stay open and interact with the public, as some have tested negative side-flow in the morning and then positive halfway through their workday. We’re dropping like flies and I really can’t see how they stay open next week.
The closure of museums comes as theaters have had to cancel performances during the holiday season, which typically generates around a third of their revenue.
As Omicron cases continue to rise, the government is considering “blackout” restrictions that could include the further closure of indoor entertainment venues. But many theaters – including the National Theater and the Young Vic – have already postponed performances to allow the cast, crew and room staff to isolate themselves.
Of the 46 full members of the Society of London Theater who had shows this weekend, 22 canceled their performances. They included huge tourist attractions such as Hamilton, Matilda, Wicked, The Lion King, and Cinderella.
Theater producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh has said the industry is in a “terrible state”. âIt’s literally day to day. We spend the whole morning trying to figure out if we can do the show or not, âMackintosh told BBC News. Bookings for the first half of 2022 were also well below expectations, he added, which was “really concerning” for the industry.
âWe all used our reserves to revive the shows,â he said. “We are in a terrible state right now and desperately need the government to help the commercial theater over the next few weeks.”
Cinemas told The Guardian they remained “in crisis mode”, “on a razor’s edge” and “terrified” of what the next few weeks will bring. Many believe the industry is in its most precarious position, even after nearly two years of uncertainty.
The Arts Union Equity has called Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take action to protect workers in the creative industries, saying the current situation threatens “the fragile return of live performances.”
Sharon Heal, Director of the Museums Association, said: âOmicron has had an impact on museum staff because they are very transmissive. A large part of the people who work in museums occupy positions facing the public, so they are vulnerable to the catch of Covid. “
She said the closures would likely have affected the museum’s finances. Heal said, âChristmas and Easter are the two great seasons for museums in terms of visitors, events and retail. And all of this is going to be affected by the new variant. We would like the government to recognize that museums are affected and that funding is needed. “