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The New England Aquarium Reopens To The Public With New Safety Guidelines

As the New England Aquarium opens for the first time since March, visitors, wearing masks and following social distancing instructions, look at fish in a tropical fish tank. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
As the New England Aquarium opens for the first time since March, visitors, wearing masks and following social distancing instructions, look at fish in a tropical fish tank. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

After being closed for 18 weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the New England Aquarium is finally reopening its doors to the public.

Visitors are required to wear face masks at the New England Aquarium, as it opens for the first time since March. Scuba masks remain optional. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Visitors are required to wear face masks at the New England Aquarium, as it opens for the first time since March. Scuba masks remain optional. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The aquarium held a members-only event Wednesday, July 15, to jumpstart the festivities and test run new protocols. A number of safety guidelines have been put into place including contactless entry with electronic tickets, signage and floor markings to enforce social distancing, 20-minute timed-entry ticketing slots and a guided, one-way flow throughout the facility. Masks are also required. Safety is the number one priority, says Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the New England Aquarium.

“This is a really exciting day to hear the kids in the background, to see the parents excited to be here," Spruill says. "This is a really special day for us.”

More rigorous cleaning processes are being introduced in high-traffic areas where patrons tend to congregate and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the building. Interactive exhibits have been either suspended or changed to a viewing-only experience, such as the shark and ray touch tank.

Emily Wu, a teen intern at the New England Aquarium, feeds Myrtle the turtle. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Emily Wu, a teen intern at the New England Aquarium, feeds Myrtle the turtle. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

“We are complying with all of the city and state guidelines, and then even more so," she says. "The aquarium will initially open to 15% occupancy, even though the city and state are allowing the aquarium up to 40% occupancy."

Jane Stewart went to the aquarium for the members-only day, saying it was nice being able to go out and do an activity like this. She says the experience felt safe and clean.

"I think the animals were happy to see us," she says, laughing.

Patrons need to reserve their tickets online before coming to the aquarium due to the limited occupancy.

A penguin contemplates the arrival of the first visitors to the New England Aquarium since March. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
A penguin contemplates the arrival of the first visitors to the New England Aquarium since March. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Christian Burno Arts Fellow
Christian Burno is the arts reporting fellow for The ARTery, WBUR’s arts and culture team.

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