Letter from CDPH Regarding Reopening Guidelines for Museums

After several months of advocating for changes to the reopening guidelines for museums, CAM received an official response from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) which outlines the reasons why they have chosen not to allow museums to reopen at the same capacities as shopping malls. In particular, the letter states that "museums attract patrons from larger geographic areas and multiple communities" and "patrons spend longer periods of time in museums" as the two reasons separating museums from shopping malls. It is disappointing that our field's collective efforts have not produced different results so far – but CAM will continue to advocate for the needs of museums, as well as the entire arts, cultural, and entertainment sector. Read the letter from CDPH below.

CAM Response on Reopening Museums

In a press conference on August 28 regarding the COVID-19 public health crisis, Governor Newsom announced new guidance that affects the reopening of indoor activities at California museums, effective August 31. The "California Blueprint for a Safer Economy" will allow museums to reopen with modifications and capacity limitations based on each county's metrics for the positivity rate and number of cases.

The State developed a new website that provides specific information about museums, aquariums, and zoos in each county. You can select "Museums" in the "Activity" field, for example, to read the specific status of museums in each county. For sector-specific guidance and checklists for modifications, click here and select "Museums, zoos, and aquariums".

CAM issued a letter to the Governor on July 15 (see below) asking that museums be reclassified to a risk category that was the same as shopping malls. As we can see from an outline of the orders by sector and tier, this request was not granted. CAM issued a public statement on August 29. Please feel free to share the statement with your media contacts, elected officials, board members, and/or members.

After two meetings with representatives of the Governor's Administration, CAM issued a letter on September 2 that proposes safety controls for museums in Tier 1 that address their concerns. Click on the link below to read the letter.

CAM Response to Proposed Stimulus Plan

In late July, the Legislature developed a joint $100 billion stimulus plan to protect Californians and spur job creation during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The stimulus plan aims to raise $100 billion through a new tax voucher program and the acceleration of other existing revenue streams. The money would be used to boost the economy and protect jobs, small businesses, and working families. In early August, CAM issued a letter asking that legislative leaders support the recommendations from CalNonprofits to treat nonprofits the same as small businesses and afford them the same opportunities, among other requests.

Indoor Activities in California Museums Closed

On July 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered that ALL museums must close indoor operations. In addition to museums, the State of California also ordered the closure of indoor activities in all restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, and family entertainment centers. The Governor said this modification to the shelter-in-place order was in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state. In counties on the state's watch list, currently representing more than 80% of the state's population, even more businesses are being required to close their doors. That includes gyms, nail and hair salons, other personal care services, indoor malls, offices in non-critical sectors, and places of worship. Click here to see the factors that are contributing to these counties being on the watch list. Read CAM's response to the Governor asking that museums be recategorized to a risk profile that is similar to shopping malls in the letter below.

Museum Reopening Survey Results & Sample Plans

In our effort to represent the interests of museums in Sacramento, we asked our institutional members about their plans for reopening. The survey results, from 87 museums (as of June 4, 2020), show great disparities in the readiness of museums to reopen to the public. More than half (53%) of California museums do not have a projected date for reopening, while nearly one-third (31%) are ready to reopen as soon as the State of California and their local public health officials allow them to do so. A minority (14%) were working with specific, projected dates, with most of those in mid-June or early July (but some as late as November or January). A majority of museums (69%) are in the process of developing their reopening plans and 21% have completed them. Thank you to our institutional members who took the time to complete this survey.

Some museums that have completed reopening plans are willing to share them with other museum representatives. These sample plans are not intended to be recommendations by either CAM or the organizations that drafted them. For definitive guidance, see the state of California's guidance documents for museums, zoos, and aquariums. Keep in mind that each museum and county will have unique considerations to make when developing a plan for reopening. Be sure to follow your county's variance information and communicate with local health officials. We hope the sample plans provided will serve as helpful resources for reference. If you have completed your plan and wish to share it as a sample, please upload it here.

See Sample Plans

Advocacy Efforts

CAM is deeply concerned about the financial recovery of museums in the aftermath of this viral outbreak. California museums are experiencing unprecedented reductions in revenue (see April 3rd survey results below). Our association has been actively sending letters to members of the California congressional delegation asking that museums be included in COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus packages.

How does your organization #MUSEUMFROMHOME?

Over 30,000 museums around the world have already shared content tagged with #museumfromhome. We truly applaud the creative efforts of California museums that are participating in the movement to engage their audiences from afar on social media.

Follow CAM @calmuseums on Instagram and tag us in your #museumfromhome posts for a chance to be reposted on our account.

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Survey Results: CAM Institutional Members & COVID-19

CAM conducted a survey of our member institutions in early April to gauge the initial financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our state's museums and cultural organizations. We have prepared a one-page overview of these survey results that we have shared with State legislators, policymakers, and members of the California congressional delegation (PDF available for download below).

As expected, California museums are experiencing unprecedented reductions in revenue and are losing over $22 million a day due to the statewide shelter-in-place order necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By May 1st, the California museum sector will have lost $929 million. Although most museums have maintained staffing levels as of April 3, 2020, 40% have cut back personnel costs with staff furloughs and/or layoffs. The full-time equivalent of the California museum workforce has decreased 10%.

To help you navigate these uncertain times, here are some resources to inform your decision-making:

Remote working tips and professional development opportunities: