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Half of British public not comfortable visiting museums or exhibitions post-lockdown

As museums begin to reopen across the UK this month, a new poll by Ipsos Mori suggests many are simply not ready for visiting exhibitions

As museums such as London's National Gallery reopen this month, is the British public ready to visit them again? Left: © The National Gallery, London. Right: Photo: Engin Akyurt

Most major UK museums announced this week that they would be opening their doors and welcoming the public back after months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But is the British public ready for them?

A new survey conducted by Ipsos Mori suggests probably not, with 49% of the public saying that they are “not very comfortable” or “not at all comfortable” with visiting an indoor museum or exhibition after coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased.

Only 34% of people said they were “very” or “fairly” comfortable going to a museum after lockdown. This compares with 51% of people saying they were comfortable with going to regular shops (not including supermarkets) and 40% saying they were comfortable with going to the hairdressers, which is usually a more intimate interaction than museum-going.

However, the poll suggests that the general public is still more uncomfortable doing several other popular activities, such as going to bars and restaurants (60%) or going to cinemas and theatres (both 59%), than attending museums at the moment. The poll also shows that concern for the risk to both personal health and for the country as a whole has risen over the past month.

The survey was conducted last weekend ahead of tomorrow’s major easing of lockdown restrictions in England, which includes the reopening of museums, galleries, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and bingo halls. More than 1,000 British adults were questioned for the poll, which compared their feelings on resuming activities in the same manner as before the coronavirus pandemic.