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California Association of Museums Contests Reopening Blueprint Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

29 August 2020

The California Association of Museums contested California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, announced yesterday by Governor Gavin Newsom in response to the Covid-19 global pandemic.

In a statement released today, CAM disagreed with the decision to place museums in the same risk category as movie theaters and indoor dining. Instead, CAM argued the correct risk profile would be the same as shopping malls and retail outlets, which are welcoming customers.

The text of its statement follows:

The California Association of Museums acknowledges that California is facing extremely challenging times and the priority must be protecting the public during this public health crisis. However, there are significant inconsistencies in the State of California's response to the pandemic that are negatively affecting the museum sector.

Despite significant communication with the Governor's office for months, the four-tier framework released yesterday still places California museums in the same risk category as movie theaters and indoor dining. Environments that are more akin to an indoor museum, however, remain open in Tier One/Widespread counties. It is inconsistent and confusing to allow sectors with similar risk profiles, such as shopping malls and retail, to welcome customers while museums remain closed to the public.

We urge the administration to reassess the treatment of museum indoor operations in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. With careful attention paid to ensuring reopening procedures are consistent with best practices and appropriate for local conditions, museums can once again provide important cultural, mental health and economic benefits in their communities.

CAM noted that many museums have fully complied with the guidance document prepared by the State of California, "which includes requiring visitors to wear masks, enforcing social distancing and taking visitors' temperatures. Museums have also taken additional steps to protect the safety and health of visitors, such as: creating a one-way path through museum galleries; limiting capacity to 25-30 percent of normal occupancy; implementing online timed ticketing reservations; removing touchable exhibit interactives; and closing areas of the museum that do not allow for social distancing."

In one sense, at least, the current profile makes sense. Unlike many retail operations that provide essential supplies to the public, museums remain an optional if valuable activity that present an avoidable risk.

But there's little doubt the pandemic is hurting the sector. A survey conducted by the American Alliance of Museums in July warned that one in three museums "may shutter forever as funding sources and financial reserves run dry." CAM's own April survey calculated "museums are losing over $22 million a day due to the statewide quarantine."

For more information visit the California Association of Museums.

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