The Metropolitan Museum of Art said on Tuesday it would limit attendance to about 10,000 visitors per day because of the highly contagious Omicron edition. During a typical holiday season, the museum expects about twice as many visitors.
“The safety of our employees and visitors remains our top priority,” Met Chief Executive Daniel H. Weiss said in a statement. “Reducing the density is one of the first steps we can take – and our dedicated staff has done an extraordinary job of making the necessary changes to adapt to our public health circumstances while allowing the museum to remain open and keep everyone safe. “
The move came as another major institution, the Baltimore Museum of Art, said it was closing its galleries through December 29. Due to the increase in positive coronavirus tests.
“We must take a moment to step back and ensure that our staff is prepared to serve museum visitors,” the Baltimore Museum said in an email Tuesday. “We think the best way is to proceed with caution.”
Weather spokesman Kenneth Wein said the reduced capacity would help limit condensation inside the building’s entrance. Outside the entrance, however, staff members were checking the vaccination status of visitors, saying there could be long lines outside. The season will also end food services starting Thursday and is asking many employees to work from home.
Reported coronavirus cases in New York state have increased by more than 80 percent in two weeks, and federal officials have said the Omron version now accounts for nearly three-quarters of new cases.
Cultural institutions have generally relied on holidays to aid revenue. This latest coronavirus surge has led to the sudden cancellation of performances and special programming around the city. Over the weekend, nearly a third of all Broadway shows were canceled due to positive coronavirus tests among their cast and staff, and many have been called off through Christmas.
“The museum sector is already facing a slow recovery,” said Laura Lott, president and chief executive of the American Alliance of Museums.
“Another wave of reduced capacity and potential shutdowns, without further federal aid, could prove disastrous,” she said.
Museums are also implementing new security measures. For example, both the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Brooklyn Museum have canceled several in-person tours.