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Coronavirus: The new rules for days out at theme parks and museums

Theme parks, museums and leisure centres are working out how they could reopen safely, as lockdown restrictions ease in the UK.

Even riding on a rollercoaster is going to require a face mask and social distancing when attractions open up again. Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach has decided that, on a ride on which people scream, visitors will be more comfortable if they are made to mask up.

It is also going to be a less sociable experience – the seats on its Icon ride are only a metre apart so there will be empty rows to allow social distancing.

After the opening of shops, England’s leisure and cultural attractions are preparing for a government announcement that they too will be allowed to reopen.

However, it will be months before many venues will be in a position to allow the public in again. A report from the Creative Industries Federation says 400,000 jobs are at risk and the cultural and creative economy is losing more than £1bn a week in revenue.

The BBC’s David Sillito experienced a socially-distanced ride on a rollercoaster in Blackpool

It’s this dire situation that is driving planning to ensure institutions will be able to reopen quickly once the government gives the green light.

Museums will be some of the first spaces to reopen their doors but it will be a different experience.

The Design Museum in London is removing its ticket desks and is moving to an online ticketing system to avoid the need for physical tickets and queues. There will also be a strict 90-minute time limit to reduce crowding and everyone will be directed along a one-way route.

Toilets will be one in, one out.

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It will be a similar experience at hundreds of other venues. James Adebayo from property consultants Tunji Adebayo & Co has been advising on how to make socially distanced spaces. There are, he says, a series of measures that will become commonplace.

The BBC’s David Sillito and consultant James Adebayo take us on a virtual tour inside a ‘Covid-safe’ gallery

Venues will increasingly have designated viewing points with limits on how long you can linger. And there will in many places be strict one-way systems to stop dawdling and bumping in to fellow visitors.

Every one of them will do things slightly differently but here is a list of things you could well experience on a day out.

  1. Ticket only – Even free museums are looking at introducing online ticketing to ensure that crowding is eliminated. Most places will no longer allow you to just wander in.
  2. Limited numbers – The number of people is going to be strictly limited to allow social distancing.
  3. Viewing points – There will be controls over how and where you can stop and linger.
  4. One-way – We have got used to queuing on marked out points, many museums and galleries will direct where and how you walk around.
  5. Time controls – Tickets will be for set arrival times. Also, some places will have to find a way to move people through a venue, so prepare for limits to how long you will be allowed to linger.
  6. Plastic – Staff will increasingly be protected behind screens.
  7. Toilets – One in, one out will become common. One reason to make visits swifter will be to reassure people who don’t want to touch handles, taps or flushes.
  8. Food – Cafes and kiosks will be limited. Bringing your own lunch or booking your food via a phone app will become more common.
  9. Late night opening – With venues having to limit numbers the only way of meeting demand and breaking even will mean that many have to extend opening hours.

Of course, this will only affect venues and attractions which can control the public. Some, such as live music venues, which rely on crowds standing together face a much longer wait and a huge hole in their revenue.

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