With Omicron on the Rise, Museums on America’s Eastern Seaboard Are Shuttering or Reducing Admittance as Protective Measures

Whether as a preventative measure or in response to increased numbers of positive tests, museums are taking action.

A pedestrian walks past the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the United States, Aug. 18, 2020. Photo by Wang Ying/Xinhua via Getty images.

Winter is here—and with it, a new variety of coronavirus, the highly contagious omicron variant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared omicron—which has hit the New York area hard already, accounting for 90 percent of new infections—the dominant strain nationwide on Monday.

Art museums in New York and elsewhere are taking measures to help control the new variant’s spread.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has served as a model for other museums dealing with the pandemic, is now limiting attendance to about 10,000 visitors a day, approximately half the number it would see during a normal holiday season, reports the New York Times.

“Reduced density is a first step we can take,” the museum’s president, Daniel Weiss, said, adding: “our dedicated staff has done an extraordinary job in making necessary changes to adapt to our public health circumstances while also allowing the museum to remain open and keep everyone safe.”

The museum will also cut food services and will ask many employees to work from home.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is closing its doors through December 29 after several staffers were exposed to the virus and are quarantining at home.

Other museums are also taking new measures.

The Brooklyn Museum is canceling in-person tours and programs through January 13. Timed-entry ticketing will remain in place, along with existing protocols, such as requiring proof of vaccination. Staff that can perform their jobs remotely will work from home through mid-January.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has paused the only regular on-site public program it was offering, its collection highlights tour.

The Whitney Museum of American Art, however, has no plans at the moment to change its programming.

Emails to the Museum of Modern Art and the National September 11 Memorial were not immediately answered.

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