Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth shuts as staff forced to self-isolate after Covid-19 infection

BOSSES at a city museum have taken swift action to close the site after two staff members tested positive for coronavirus.

Monday, 14th December 2020, 3:52 pm
Updated Monday, 14th December 2020, 5:44 pm

The Mary Rose Museum, at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, has temporarily shut up shop as a precaution after the infection was confirmed.

It’s believed both staff contracted the virus away from the ‘Covid-secure’ attraction, the museum’s chief executive Helen Bonser-Wilton said.

The multimillion-pound building, which has been running without incident since re-opening in the summer, is due to remain closed until December 27 while a number of other staff self-isolate.

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Helen Bonser-Wilton, chief executive of The Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth Picture: Christopher Ison for the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

A statement on the museum’s said: ‘We are sorry that the Mary Rose Museum will be closed until December 27 due to several vital members of the team being instructed to self-isolate.

‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused and look forward to welcoming you back very soon. All other attractions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard remain open to visit as normal.’

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Ms Bonser-Wilton said it was crucial the museum acted decisively and said there was no risk to customers, as the history hub has a large number of precautions in place to protect visitors.

Speaking to The News, she added: ‘We have got a number of people who have been told to self-isolate.

‘We have simply closed the museum down because we don’t have enough key holders to open, quite honestly.

‘We are operating out of an abundance of caution just to protect our staff and visitors.

‘But everything else in the dockyard continues to remain open.’

The museum has installed a raft of safety measures to protect guests and staff from the virus, Ms Bonser-Wilton said.

Perspex screens have been fitted across the site, while everyone inside must wear masks.

There are also limits on capacity, with visitors only able to head to the museum via pre-booked slots.

Ms Bonser-Wilton added that no positive cases of coronavirus had been traced back to the museum since it opened up after lockdown.

‘We are trying to be incredibly careful and responsible and get ahead of this before it becomes a problem,’ she said.

‘We have taken so much effort to make sure our measures are absolutely right on, to reassure people, and reassure our staff and volunteers because we want to keep them safe as well.

‘We have spent so long building up our Covid-secure measures, we have had nothing traced back to the dockyard at all – this infection came from outside, with somebody’s husband saying they caught it in Tesco.’

The museum is the home of Henry VIII’s doomed Tudor flagship, the Mary Rose.

The warship sank in battle in 1545 and was raised from the Solent in 1982, along with 19,000 artefacts.

More than 80 per cent of the museum's staff were furloughed earlier this year while the site was forced to close during the first lockdown.

The closure led to the loss of 84 per cent – £2.4m – of the centre’s annual income, which is generated by visitors between April and August, the Mary Rose Trust previously said.

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