Pressure sees government extend mask mandate to museums, galleries and libraries

9 December 2021

New rules coming into force on Monday see these Prospect workplaces brought into the scope of the new rules announced as part of the government’s ‘Plan B’ restrictions in England.

The new rules will apply to the public and staff in public facing areas in museums, galleries, cultural and heritage sites, zoos, libraries and public reading rooms. Unlike current voluntary restrictions in some areas, the new rules will be legally enforceable by the police.

Ben Middleton, Prospect heritage group secretary said.

“Nine-in-ten members in the sector told us that they supported toughening up these mask rules and that current voluntary rules weren’t working.

“Members have worked incredibly hard to reopen venues, recognising the incredible cultural, educational and economic value of the heritage sector.

“Mask wearing is recommended by the WHO as part of the range of measures that should be used to stop the spread of Covid.

“Thanks to pressure from union members, the government has now recognised the mistake they made in requiring  masks in museum shops, but not in the galleries themselves.

“New restrictions across the economy will provide challenges for many sectors including heritage. We are supporting calls for the government to fund flexible furlough, so employers have the flexibility they need to adapt to changing restrictions while protecting jobs.”

Employers will be required to display signage or take other measures to ensure customers are aware of the requirement to wear a face covering on their premises. We recognise that not all members will be able to wear a face covering and this is covered by the relevant exemptions.

Members must be protected from abuse by any member of the public who is unhappy about complying with the law. We would expect employers to take robust action if required, and any member requiring support should contact their Prospect rep.