The Shetland Museum and Archives has closed its doors to the public while the amenity trust’s head offices at Garthspool are also remaining shut until further notice as the impact of the coronavirus crisis continues.
Shetland Amenity Trust says the upcoming seasonal opening of its other sites at Sumburgh Head, the Crofthouse Museum, and Old Scatness Broch and Iron Age Village are also under review.
Uncertainty is also hanging over several of this year’s high profile events including Da Voar Redd Up, the Nature Festival and Boat Week.
Work is continuing on Shetland Wool Week in the hope that the major event in the Shetland calendar – which takes place in late September and early October and contributes over £2 million to the local economy each year – will be able to go ahead.
However, next week’s celebratory launch event at the Museum and Archives has been cancelled.
It had been planned to announce the Wool Week Patron and launch the hat pattern for 2020. The team at the Trust are now working on an alternative ‘virtual’ launch.
The closures have been made in response to Monday’s advice from the UK government urging the public to reduce travel, work from home where possible, and distance themselves socially in an effort to reduce the transmission of Covid-19.
Trust staff are being supported to work from home in the interim, while ensuring that buildings and sites continue to be cared for and essential duties and functions are performed.
Chief Executive of Shetland Amenity Trust Mat Roberts said: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision in incredibly difficult circumstances.
“The advice and approach have been changing rapidly and we have been working hard in recent weeks to prepare for any eventuality. Closing our sites and possibly cancelling events will have significant implications for the local community, the local visitor economy and the Trust itself.
“The financial consequences, in particular, should not be underestimated. Our priority, however, must be to protect the public and our staff, in line with government efforts to manage this global pandemic.”