National Museum of the Royal Navy 'delighted' to re-open after months of lockdown

MUSEUM bosses have told of their delight at being able to re-open from July 4 following an announcement by the prime minister today.

By Tom Cotterill
Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 3:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 3:53 pm

The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), which is based at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, is now scrambling to get ready after three months of lockdown hardship.

But officials from the heritage hub, which boasts sites across the UK, have warned visitors it will take ‘some time’ until things are all set.

A spokeswoman for the heritage organisation told The News: ‘The National Museum of the Royal Navy is delighted to be given the guidance that we can reopen our doors to visitors once more.

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HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Picture: Shaun Roster

‘Whilst this had been hinted at, it wasn’t clear until today that the July 4 was a definite date.

‘We are now waiting for the full set of government guidance which will outline what measures need to be in place to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors, we will review these carefully.’

Prime minister Boris Johnson this afternoon revealed measures to bring the UK out of lockdown ‘hibernation’.

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Speaking to MPs in parliament, the PM said the government was reducing the two-metre social distancing rule to one metre.

Mr Johnson also paved the way for pubs, cinemas, museums, camp sites, hairdressers and churches to open from July 4.

Reacting to the news, a spokeswoman from the NMRN said: ‘It will then take some time to ensure that all of these measures are in place and therefore we are unable today to provide a definitive reopening date.

‘What is clear is that our re-opening is likely to have some different phases and that there will be changes in how people can enjoy our extraordinary ships and museums.’

Speaking to MPs, the prime minister insisted every step in easing the lockdown is ’scrupulously weighed’.

He said: ’We cannot lift all the restrictions at once so we have to make difficult judgements.

’And every step is scrupulously weighed against the evidence.’

He added: ’Our principle is to trust the British public to use their common sense in the full knowledge of the risks, remembering that the more we open up, the more vigilant we will need to be.’

The national lockdown was announced at the end of March in a drastic effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The impact of the stay-at-home measures have been huge on museums, with the NMRN losing ‘81 per cent’ of its income, the organisation said.

And despite the easing of lockdown measures, the NMRN has warned finances will still be perilously tight.

‘We know that we must incur additional costs to meet the standards required to reopen and that we need to bring back some of the 85 per cent of staff who have been furloughed,’ a spokeswoman added.

‘We also know that the number of visitors we are able to admit whilst adhering to guidelines is reduced and therefore must balance those costs against the levels of income we hope to generate.’

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard boosts the economy in the south by £110m a year, an economic impact assessment has found.

The site props up 2,700 jobs UK-wide and is visited by more than 850,000 people a year.

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