We’ve visited several of London’s museums and attractions during COVID. And even if things are not completely back to normal after lockdown and many interactive areas are closed, it’s still possible to have a good time behind the facemasks.
Note: While we try to update this article as often as we can, COVID guidelines are changing on a daily basis and we cannot guarantee this information to be accurate at the time you read it. Always refer to government guidelines making sure you’re updated on the latest COVID-guidelines in your local area.
Visiting attractions in London during COVID
Almost all of London’s museums are now open again. You might have read in the news that visitor numbers are drastically down and that museums are almost empty, but don’t be fooled to think it’s therefore easy to get tickets. With strict limitations on visitor numbers and reduced capacity, many popular museums like Natural History Museum and Science Museum are actually fully booked at peak times during weekends and school holidays. If you’re taking a spontaneous day-trip to London it can be really difficult to get tickets so we recommend booking long in advance to avoid disappointment.
Since the attractions are operating with reduced capacity, make sure to book your visit 1-2 weeks in advance to play it safe. According to government figures, the proportion of average visitors compared prior to closure is trending towards 30% on Saturdays. This is across all museums in Britain, so popular places like London Transport Museum and British Museum are likely to experience higher numbers.
On the positive side you’ll experience a lot less crowds, probably much less than 50% visitors compared to before covid. Traveling as a family with small kids, this is a big advantage as we don’t need to worry so much about our kids being in the way of others all the time. Quite a paradox that it’s less stressful to go to the museum during covid wearing facemasks…
We have been to several museums after the lockdown ended, and we’ve always been impressed by the safety measures that have been implemented. Some museums have completely sealed off interactive play areas like the National Maritime Gallery closing the popular children’s’ areas “All Hands” and “Ahoy!” galleries. The Science Museum, on the other hand, has kept as good as all interactive areas open including the amazing Wonderland gallery.
The chart above shows the trend for people searching for “London Museums” on Google in the last 12 months. With museums opening up beginning of July you can see more and more people searching for museums in London, although still far away from its peak before lockdown.
What you can expect from the museums after lockdown:
- Book early in advance online
- Don’t come too late for your assigned time-slot
- Remember to respect social distancing
- Fewer crowds because of the capacity restrictions
- Wear a facemask
- One-way routes through the galleries
- Card payments only
- Reduced food/restaurant options
- Sanitiser stations throughout the buildings
- Increased cleaning regime
- Some interactive areas and touchscreens will be unavailable
- Your personal details used for the track & trace programme
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What about London’s City-Farms?
Many of the city-farms in London have been struggling financially and it’s been difficult for them to find the resources to comply with the strict regulations to open safely. Here is the current status:
Belmont Children’s Farm – Open
Brooks Farm – Open
Crystal Palace Park Farm – Closed
Deen City Farm – Closed
Forty Hall Farm – Open (only weekends)
Freightliners Farm – Open (only weekends)
Hackney City Farm – Closed (the cafe is open)
Hounslow Urban Farm – Open
Kentish Town City Farm – Open
Lee Valley Park Farms – Closed
Mudchute Park and Farm – Open (parts still closed)
Newham City Farm – Closed
Spitalfields City Farm – Closed
Stepney City Farm – Open
Surrey Docks Farm – Closed (Goats and Duckpond can be viewed)
Vauxhall City Farm – Open
What can I do to reduce the risk?
Here are some of the things you can do to reduce the risk when visiting a museum after reopening:
- Respect the social distancing rules (1m plus)
- Follow directions and signs by the museums
- Keep to your assigned time-slot showing on the ticket
- Bring you own hand sanitizer, gel or wipes
- Do not touch your face, and cough or sneeze into a tissue or arm when a tissue is not available
How are playgrounds under covid?
London’s playgrounds have reopened after lockdown and are more popular than ever with families staying more local during weekends and term holidays. Keep in mind that social distancing applies like everywhere else, and make sure to bring hand sanitiser. Facemasks are not currently required, but if the playground is busy we (as in the parents) will wear them. Keep in mind that most of London’s playgrounds are unattended, so use common sense and don’t stay too long if you see the kids queueing up for the slides and swings.
Social distancing in the playgrounds is difficult
Per government guidelines, social distancing needs to be facilitated with a minimum of 1 meter between visitors (if 2 meters is not possible). This is not happening in any of the playgrounds we’ve been to, and it’s impossible to manage for the local councils.
Recommended playground measures include:
- Signs with a maximum number of visitors to the playground
- Only one carer per child in the play area
- Reduced amount of seats on swings
- Creation of a queuing system
- Frequently cleaning equipment
- Face masks are not mandatory to be used in playgrounds or museums
- Face masks should not be used by children under 3
- Extra care should be made when using face masks in a playground setting (for age 3+)
Avoid visiting during peak hours after reopening
One of the things you can do in terms of avoiding the biggest crowds in parks and playgrounds is to check Google Maps when the most popular visiting hours are. With the strictest lockdown measures coming to an end and more and more places reopening, this can be a good strategy to avoid the biggest rush of people flocking to attractions after months of isolation.
Have you visited museums and other attractions during COVID? Let us know your experience in the comments!