Update: COVID-19 and Ontario Museums

Mar 13, 2020

UPDATE: COVID-19 and Ontario Museums

As COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic, the OMA has collected further resources below to assist members in more comprehensive preparations. 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.

The health and safety of our visitors, communities, and staff are a priority for our institutions. The OMA encourages all to exercise caution and act in alignment with the recommendations of public health and government authorities. 

The OMA is in touch with stakeholders to support our members, and will provide updates regularly as the situation progresses. 

If COVID-19 is changing the way your museum works, please reach out to us at community@museumsontario.ca
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 13 on the impact of COVID-19 on Ontario's heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries: 

"The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government's number one priority. Based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the experts at the province's Command Table, we have been taking decisive steps to contain the virus and continue to protect the public. We continue to work with our public health partners across all ministries to ensure that the appropriate plans are in place to respond to any scenario.

As a measure of prudence, the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries has convened a series of advisory groups with leading sector stakeholders in Ontario's $74-billion heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries to ensure the government is provided with the most up-to-date information on economic impacts. By working in partnership with professional and amateur sports organizations, airlines, hotels, restaurateurs, film and television producers, as well as other tourism and cultural attractions, the government will be supported with real-time information that includes attendance records, revenue and labour impacts. This information will help inform any action that may be required to protect Ontario jobs and support impacted businesses.

We are also speaking regularly with our agencies and attractions to proactively initiate the latest health, safety, and cleanliness protocols to protect the public and staff members. We are in regular communication with Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries agencies and attractions, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Ottawa's Shaw Centre, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Science North, Ontario Science Centre, Niagara Parks Commission, Destination Ontario and others. These touchpoints provide an opportunity to share best practices and collectively monitor the impacts to the sector."

Read more HERE.
Statement from Minister Guilbeault
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, provided a statement on Twitter March 13 regarding his Ministry's response to COVID-19:

"We know that times like these can be particularly difficult for self-employed creative workers, community organizations, and sports and cultural organizations, among many others. We will keep disbursing grants and contributions to arts, culture and sport organizations, even in cases of cancelled events. The disbursed funds should be used to cover costs incurred and reasonable costs of cancellations up to the total amount of the grant or contribution. This includes lost income for affected artists and technicians. I encourage you to contact your assigned agent at the Department of Canadian Heritage if this case applies to you or your organization."

Read more HERE.
Communications on Museum Closures and Program Changes

During this time of uncertainty museums may face temporary closure and need to be prepared to communicate this with the public.

Example Museum Closure Communication: 
  • Website pop-up message: 
    • click HERE (Royal Ontario Museum) 
    • or HERE (National Museums of Canada)
    • or HERE (City of Hamilton) 
  • Tweet:
    • click HERE (St. Catharines Museum)
    • or HERE (Bank of Canada Museum)
    • or HERE (Station Gallery)
Business Continuity Planning
Resource from the Ontario Nonprofit Network 

"In an ideal world, we’d all have business continuity plans ready at our fingertips! If you do, now is the time to dust it off and ensure that everyone on your team knows what your plans are. If you don’t have one, now is the time to put together a small group of team members (which could include board members or volunteers) and craft a plan. Be sure to address:

  • Who makes decisions during this time and what criteria do they use to make decisions?
  • Who, when and how do you communicate with your staff, volunteers, clients, program participants and stakeholders such as partners and funders?
  • What “business” functions are critical to maintain and which ones can be cancelled or postponed? 
  • Do you have contact information handy for key people – such as board members, staff, partners, professional services (such as bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers), funders, etc.?
  • If you have an office, do you have access to critical organizational information should the office not be accessible? E.g. back-ups, storage on the cloud, etc."

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. 
For Information On...
  • Personal Preparedness
  • Preparing for Public Gatherings
  • Collections & Facilities Care
  • Human Resources & Business Continuity Planning
  • Emergency Preparedness & Risk Management
Please also consult the Resources section of the OMA website HERE. 
We're Here to Help!

For all questions or inquiries please contact the OMA: community@museumsontario.ca and/or oma@museumsontario.ca or call 416-348-8672 / 1-866-662-8672.