Museums, monuments, palaces to reopen Monday with restrictions

  • Lusa
  • 13 May 2020

The government approved on April 30 the "Plan of Defining", which provided for the reopening of bookstores and libraries on May 4, followed by museums, palaces, galleries and monuments on May 18.

Museums, monuments and palaces will reopen from Monday, with “flexible and variable geometry” of safety rules depending on the venue, but there are priorities to follow, the government revealed on Wednesday.

In a hearing in the Parliamentary Committee on Culture and Communication, the Secretary of State for Cultural Heritage, Ângela Ferreira, said that staff will return to museums, monuments and palaces in “rotating and alternating teams” and “there are workers who will not return to work because they are at risk”.

Last week, a source from the Directorate of Cultural Heritage (DGPC) had revealed to Lusa that a guide manual was being prepared for the reopening of cultural facilities on Monday, May 18, International Museum Day, after about two months closed, because of Covid-19.

Among the rules revealed at the time was the mandatory use of a mask, a minimum distance of two meters, the hand and room sanitation.

All the safety and hygiene rules will still be approved in the Council of Ministers, but questioned today by MEPs, the Secretary of State for Culture has listed a few more.

According to Ângela Ferreira, priority will be given to group visits, with a smaller capacity, and the sale of tickets “previously scheduled” with museums, as well as payments by ATM.

The estimation is that inside the museums, monuments and palaces there will be “one person per 20 square metres”, who can walk on signalled tracks, and that there will be a previous estimate of how long the visit will last.

Workers will have individual protection ‘kits’, such as masks, which will be given ‘periodically to each place’.

“All the issues have been widely discussed with the entities that advise and help us,” said Ângela Ferreira, citing associations, unions and the Directorate General of Health.

At today’s parliamentary hearing of the Culture Ministry, Graça Fonseca, questioned by the PSD, admitted that the opening of the National Center of Nautical and Underwater Archaeology (CNANS) in Xabregas, Lisbon, is again delayed due to a lack of equipment.

“It is true that there have been successive delays, everything was scheduled to open in May and the problem is the acquisition of a machine that has to come from Spain and that, in the context of a pandemic, the machine cannot come,” she said.

According to Graça Fonseca, the center cannot open without “this equipment that is essential for the maintenance of the estate”, and it has not advanced with any official date.

Asked by CDS-PP whether bullfighting would be included in the reopening plan as of June 1 or September 30, the minister of culture – without directly mentioning bullfights – replied that the rules to be defined for outdoor or indoor shows “apply to all shows of an artistic nature. There is no differentiation of rules”.

The Government approved on April 30, in the Council of Ministers, the “Plan of Defining”, which provided for the reopening of bookstores, libraries and archives on May 4, followed by museums, palaces, galleries and monuments on May 18.

Cinemas, theaters, auditoriums and concert halls can open on June 1st, “with marked places, reduced capacity and physical distance”.

These decisions will be “reviewed every 15 days”.

Festivals and shows of a similar nature” are prohibited until September 30.