COVID-19 and Ontario Museums

Mar 10, 2020



COVID-19 and Ontario Museums

Please see below for collected information and resources regarding the novel coronavirus and its impacts for Ontario museums. These resources are not to be taken as legal advice or a definitive answer for any particular museum, but rather as a guide for preparedness for the field. We encourage members to consult relevant policies & legislation. 

If COVID-19 is changing the way your museum works, please reach out to us at
Statement from Minister MacLeod and Minister Elliott
The Honourable Lisa MacLeod (Minister of Heritage, Tourism, Sport and Culture Industries) and the Honourable Christine Elliott (Deputy Premier and Minister of Health) issued a joint statement on March 6 regarding the impact of COVID-19 on Ontario's tourism industry:

"The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government's number one priority. Ontario continues to work directly alongside our partners at the Public Health Agency of Canada and local public health units to monitor the situation closely, and we encourage residents and visitors to Ontario to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible information on the Ontario government's dedicated COVID-19 webpage.

"We are also working closely with our agencies and attractions to respond appropriately. This includes working with Destination Ontario to direct marketing efforts to domestic, national and other markets not impacted by COVID-19. Our attractions are also implementing appropriate protocols to be in-line with public health and safety recommendations. Finally, we are actively engaged with our federal government colleagues to ensure a coordinated response to tourism impacts."

"We want to assure all residents and tourists to Ontario that officials at the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries are working together in close cooperation with our partners to ensure public safety continues to be protected and our tourism industry continues to thrive."

Read more HERE. 
Government Resources regarding
  • Ontario Ministry of Health dedicated website (updated twice daily): HERE 
    • General COVID-19 Information Sheets (available in multiple languages)HERE
  • Public Health OntarioHERE 
  • Health CanadaHERE
Your local or regional government or health unit websites can also provide credible local information. 
Resources for Museum Practice
Personal Preparedness

From the Public Health Agency of Canada COVID-19 Prevention and Risks HERE

Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
  • use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • when coughing or sneezing:
    • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
    • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
Preparing for Public Gatherings

From the Public Health Agency of Canada: Risk management for mass gatherings during COVID-19 HERE

Risk mitigation strategies could include:
  • reducing the number of participants or changing the venue to prevent crowding;
  • staggering arrivals and departures;
  • providing packaged refreshments instead of a buffet;
  • increasing access to handwashing stations;
  • promoting personal protective practices (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, staying home if ill);
  • offering virtual or live-streamed activities; and
  • changing the event program to reduce high risk activities such as those that require physical contact between participants.
Collections & Facilities Care

Museum Closure
  • Canadian Conservation Institute: Guide for Winter Museum Closures HERE
  • University of Alberta Museums: Guide for Emergency Preparedness- Preparations Prior to Closure HERE
Facilities Cleaning
  • US National Park Service: Safer Cleaning Alternatives For The Museum & Visitor Centre HERE
From the Public Health Agency of Canada:  Community-based measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 HERE

Cleaning public spaces:
  • Cleaning of high traffic public spaces (e.g. malls, airports, public transportation) should follow regular cleaning and disinfecting regimes, both in terms of products used and surfaces targeted, as it is not likely practical/sustainable to increase the frequency of cleaning. Community settings are encouraged to develop protocols for cleaning public spaces if they currently do not have an established cleaning routine.
  • Workplaces and other similar community settings are encouraged to clean highly touched surfaces (e.g. phones, elevator buttons, washrooms, tables) frequently and to recommend and facilitate increased hand hygiene. It is also recommended that items that cannot be easily cleaned (e.g., newspapers, magazines, stuffed toys) be removed.
Human Resources & Business Continuity Planning
  • Government of Ontario: Guide to the Employment Standards Act HERE

From the World Health Organization: Getting Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19 HERE

Flexible work arrangements and sick leave:
  • Where feasible, adjust policies to reduce social contact, such as:
    • flexible hours
    • staggering start times
    • teleworking arrangements
    • using email and teleconferencing
  • Relax sick leave policies to support employees in self-isolating when ill.
    • This includes suspending the need for medical notes and reduces the burden on an already stressed health care system.
  • Prepare for increases in absenteeism due to illness among employees and their families or possibly school closures.
    • Access your business continuity plan for how to maintain key business functions if faced with high absenteeism.
    • Consider the need for cross-training personnel to function in key positions.
Emergency Preparedness & Risk Management
  • Public Safety Canada: Emergency Management Planning HERE
  • Canadian Conservation Institute/ ICCROM guide to Risk Management HERE
Please also consult the Resources section of the OMA website HERE. 
American Alliance of Museums Resources