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Study finds museums are safest indoor activity during COVID-19

Museums are the safest indoor activity amid the pandemic, according to a study by the Berlin Institute of Technology (TU Berlin) in Germany.

metropolitan museum of art

The study found that the risk of COVID-19 infection from aerosol particles is considerably lower in museums than in supermarkets, restaurants, offices or public transport.

The TU Berlin study was led by Martin Kriegel and Anne Hartmann. It assessed the risk of COVID-19 transmission via aerosol particles in indoor spaces.

It considered the average length of stay in a public space, as well as the quality of the airflow and the type of activities taking place (via Hyperallergic).

Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Gallery, quoted the study while asking Italian authorities to let the museum stay open despite COVID-19.

The Uffizi Gallery reopened on January 21, but had to close once again two weeks later due to rising cases of COVID-19 in Italy.

The research found that if museums, theatres and cinemas are limited to 30 percent capacity, with visitors wearing masks and social distancing, these indoor attractions are safer than any others.

Supermarkets more risky than museums

Supermarket shopping while wearing a mask is twice as risky as heading to a museum, the study says. Risk of infection is more than doubled at indoor restaurants at 25 percent capacity and gyms at 30 percent capacity.

Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), said in October: “We need to open museums. Every other big metropolitan museum in the United States, is already open, other than ours.”

“And there are hundreds of thousands, if not over a million, visitors that have visited those museums since July,” added Govan. “And so far, not one single case of COVID transmitted in museums.”

Celeste DeWald, executive director of the California Association of Museums, told the New York Times it’s “frustrating to see crowded shopping malls and retail spaces and airports, yet museums are completely closed and many have not been able to reopen at all”.

“There is a unique impact on museums,” added DeWald.

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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