Irish museums had to close on 6 October when the country entered the highest level of restrictions (level 5) to combat the spread of COVID-19. Modifications to level 3 will see museums (including art museums or galleries) reopen with protective measures in the first phase of reopening.
The Irish Museums Association (IMA)'s membership welcomes “this nuanced approach to the reopening of museums within the Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19. As institutions that hold a high degree of trust and place public benefit at the core of their activities and purpose, museums are ideally placed to provide national and regional audiences with a stable, safe environment. In doing so, they not only boost civic wellbeing and public mental health but can also assist broader government efforts in curtailing spread of Covid-19 and provide respite to visitors.
In welcoming the announcement, the IMA's Gina O'Kelly said: 'The safety of audiences and staff is of paramount importance to our sector and we are confident protective measures across our museums reflect this. While allowed reopen from this Tuesday, individual circumstances are being (and must be) considered by each museum - with some opting to not reopen until Spring 2021. Despite this, the reopening of museums represents a lifeline for many of our members who hugely look forward to welcoming visitors back to their exhibition rooms and providing them with a safe, relaxed, and enjoyable experience'.”
Museums in Brussels had to close on 24 October, in Flanders museums closed on 30 October and museums in Wallonia closed on 2 November. In a press release from 26 November 2020, ICOM Belgium Wallonie-Bruxelles writes that museums are not the problem, but rather part of the solution. They elaborate that “Today, at a time when the reopening of non‐essential businesses is on the negotiation table, we want the reopening of museums to be taken into account just as much, for the viability of their structures as for their contribution to well-being of the population. Museums are not the problem. Museums are part of the solution to the problem. Let us make the societal choice to consider museums as an essential public service: let's reopen them as quickly as possible; let's keep them open as much as possible!”
Get an overview of the situation for European museum in NEMO's map of closures and openings.