Thursday, 28 May 2020

National Collecting Institutions- COVID-19 re-opening protocols
One of the brilliant re purposing of artworks by @kelsigiguerevia  #tussenkunstenquarantaine 


These Protocols are provided to assist the public in understanding the considerations that are informing the re-opening of public archive, gallery, library and museum spaces. Hopefully both small and large institutions will find them useful. It is still intended that some Tasmania-specific guidelines will be published as well in the next week or two via Worksafe Tasmania--stay tuned. Many local councils are issuing advice to agencies within its area. There is a lot to take in but hopefully you can put together a plan for your museum that takes into account both national and local advice.  Every museum and gallery will need to prepare a safety plan by 15 June in order to re open. These particular Protocols have been informed by the Australian Government’s 3 Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia (the Framework), with a focus Steps 2 and 3 as galleries and museums are required to stay closed to the public under Step 1.

Australia’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums exist for the public benefit. They each preserve, interpret and make accessible our nation’s history fostering an understanding of the issues, people and events that have shaped Australia. Notwithstanding their digital outreach, it is important for each institution to safely open to the public as soon as conditions allow. 

Each and every institution is unique, due to its location, size, the nature of its offering, the visitors it attracts, and the number of visitors it typically hosts on a daily basis. Therefore, it remains the responsibility of each institution to undertake risk assessments and develop controls that apply to their circumstances. It is for this reason that specific and detailed controls cannot reasonably be contained within these protocols. Each institution will develop its own detailed COVIDSafe plan in consultation with the relevant authorities and in line with these protocols.

Prioritise health and safety

Follow National Cabinet and the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance, as well as recommendations from federal/state/territory governments and state and local health officials. (A list of references is provided at the end of this document.) Review and incorporate these into relevant guidance for communities, workplaces, and events. The Framework requires all Australians to maintain 1.5m distancing and good hygiene, and to stay home if they are unwell. Institutions are required to frequently clean and disinfect communal areas, and develop COVIDSafe plans for their workplaces and premises. Where premises are shared with institutions in other states and territories, consideration should be given to aligning practice with that of the co-location partner.

Develop a phased timeline

 A gradual approach allows institutions to prioritise health and safety of both staff and visitors while taking progressive steps to restore regular operations. It also provides flexibility for regular monitoring and revision of reopening plans. Institutions should also be prepared for future closures at short notice, including those required if there is a confirmed case in a staff member or visitor, or local health jurisdictions re-impose tighter restrictions in response to local outbreaks. Under Step 2 of the Framework institutions will be permitted to open to the public but under strict conditions to manage the health and safety of visitors and staff. These conditions include limiting the size of gatherings to up to 20 people unless the relevant State or Territory allows larger numbers in some circumstances. For example, the ACT Government has announced that from 20 June the size of gatherings may increase to up to 50 people. Under Step 3 of the Framework the size of permitted gatherings will be increased to up to 100 people and larger gatherings will be considered, and our institutions will adjust their accessibility arrangements accordingly.

Restrict contact, capacity, and access

As part of the phased approach, institutions will consider how to limit person-to-person contact, regulate the number of visitors and/or staff in particular spaces, and restrict or prohibit access to certain areas or resources of the institution, consistent with the Framework and relevant State or Territory arrangements. Practical measures will be implemented to ensure physical distancing rules are understood and enforced, such as appropriate signage and other guidance for visitors, and the availability of sufficient trained staff to manage the safe flow of visitors within and between particular spaces. Some activities and spaces at the institutions may remain unavailable as they cannot be safely undertaken or used while observing necessary physical distancing and hygiene measures. Access to collection material is the driving tenet of all institutions. Where physical access cannot be managed within safe parameters, consideration should be given to making alternative arrangements, including digital access.

Individual COVIDSafe plans may include measures such as:

-Establish one-way flow through public spaces, with separated entry and exit points, to facilitate physical distancing.
-No or limited access to theatres, high traffic areas, and particularly tight spaces in the institution. 

-Online ticket sales only or alternatively touchless payment options.
-Recording visitors contact details and/or asking if they have activated the COVIDSafe application on their smartphones.
-Providing digital visitor guides and materials instead of physical copies. o -Regulating interactive exhibits (e.g. touchscreens) by providing disposable stylus pens, or if unavailable, signage or physical barriers to prohibit use.
-Cancelling or restricting group visits, guided tours, public programs, and special or private events until safe to offer them, and then limiting the number of participants.

Establish clear cleaning protocols

Update cleaning protocols based on Department of Health and Safe Work Australia recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting facilities, including communal areas or surfaces frequently touched, and industry-recommended practices for collections care, food service and retail operations. Require third parties involved in food and retail activities at the institutions to comply with relevant protocols.

Communicate clearly and frequently

Communicate proactively with both staff and the public about plans and the protocols in place for their health and safety (this should include signage at premises). Galleries, libraries, archives and museums are trusted by the public and can play an important role can play an important role in public education and community support in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provide training for staff

Institutions should provide training for staff on how to protect staff and promote safe interactions with other staff and/or visitors. The Department of Health offers educational resources intended for workers who are at risk of exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff should be given clear guidelines for how to respond if other staff or visitors are not following health and safety protocols and/or appear unwell.

Review and update workplace policies

-Policies for pandemics, employee leave and working from home arrangements should be reviewed and updated to protect staff, provide flexibility, and encourage sick employees to stay home.
-Coordinate approach and connect with the collections community
-Connect and collaborate with other collecting institutions and portfolio departments for consistency and to identify and resolve common issues.


These reflect current health advice and the obligations of employers.
COVID-19 Guidance and Resources (including work health and safety obligations, compensation and rehabilitation entitlements and responsibilities). 
Safe Work Australia checklists

[1] To maintain the average density of 4m2 per person, institutions will divide the total area of a distinct space such as room by 4. For example, if an institution had a room that was 160m2 , a maximum of 40 people would be permitted in that room, subject to any gathering size restrictions

Issued by Tasmanian Department of State Growth

Note: the current list of testing clinics can be found here

Stay Safe Team

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