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The main entrance of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Photo: David Iliff.

English Museums to Begin Opening May 17

Museums in England can begin reopening May 17 following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown guide, with galleries beginning to reopen more than a month earlier, on April 12, The Art Newspaper reports. According to Johnson, who delivered the news in a speech Monday at the House of Commons, all galleries and institutions should be open by June 21, barring a spike in Covid-19 infections.

Johnson’s plan, or “road map,” allows for the country’s reopening in four phases, with the first beginning March 8 and encompassing a return to full, in-person teaching at primary and secondary schools as well as the possibility of enjoying a picnic or a coffee with a friend outdoors. Galleries, considered “nonessential retail,” will open as part of the second phrase, as will many restaurants (though indoor service has not yet been stipulated) and possibly universities and colleges, while museums and theaters will be allowed to greet visitors as part of the third phase.

The news comes as a relief, as British institutions have endured a bumpy year. Though many opened in June after shuttering in the spring amid the first wave of the pandemic, a number were forced to close in early November under Johnson’s tiered lockdown system. A few reopened in early December as restrictions were lifted, but then museums nationwide had to close down again on December 30 when the country returned to lockdown amid the virus’s surge.

The British government’s fiscal year additionally begins in April, with arts institutions expected to receive funds exceeding those of the previous year by 2.3 percent.

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