New England Aquarium announces reopening plans for July 16

Timed-entry tickets on sale now at neaq.org

BOSTON, MASS. (July 7, 2020) – Following guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and City of Boston, the New England Aquarium will reopen to the public on Thursday, July 16.

The Aquarium closed its doors to the public on March 13 amid the growing COVID-19 threat. Since then, the institution has been focused on providing critical care to its 20,000 animals as well as continuing conservation work in the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, the research arm of the organization.

“We are thrilled that the Commonwealth and the City of Boston have deemed it safe for us to welcome back the public to our institution, and we are grateful for their leadership and guidance,” said Vikki N. Spruill, President & CEO. “These have been a challenging few months for so many, and we have missed our visitors. During our reopening, we are focused on providing a responsible, safe and fun experience for all.”

The Aquarium has been carefully planning for a successful public reopening for months, taking a thorough and comprehensive approach.

“We have spent a great deal of time on our reopening strategy to ensure we are creating a safe environment to fulfill our mission and an experience that people will love being a part of,” Spruill said.

Among the changes to the visitor experience are increased hygiene protocols, social distancing measures, and timed-ticket entry. Details include:

  • Enhanced cleaning efforts throughout the facility, particularly focused on high-traffic areas such as entryways, lobby, and elevators. Signage throughout the building will encourage handwashing and direct visitors to hand sanitizing stations.
  • Contactless entry. Visitors will be able to scan tickets themselves upon entering the building. Doors will be propped open or staffed to limit surface contact. Benches have been removed to avoid contact points, and there is a wider flow on the ramps and around exhibits.
  • One-way guest flow. Signage and floor markings will reinforce six-foot social distancing guidelines and help visitors easily navigate the new configuration safely.
  • Face coverings are required for everyone over 5 years of age and encouraged—per parental discretion—for those over age 2.
  • Limited number of people in the building daily. The Aquarium will allow a set number of visitors into the facility every 20 minutes. While the state’s Phase 3 guidelines allow for 40% of maximum permitted occupancy, the Aquarium will initially reopen at just under 15% occupancy, which equals about 240 visitors plus staff at a given time. Visitors can purchase tickets by phone or online for timed entry. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
  • Changes to vendor offerings. The gift shop will be open with one-way flow and limited capacity. The photo station is closed at this time, as is the café.
  • Certain aspects of the Aquarium experience are limited for hygiene and social distancing reasons. The Shark and Ray Touch Tank will be a view-only experience. The Edge of the Sea Touch Tank and Science of Sharks exhibits are closed at this time, and all live presentations suspended. The Simons Theatre is also closed during the initial reopening period.

Ahead of the public reopening on July 16, the Aquarium will be hosting an appreciation day for members and community partners on July 15.

Tickets are now available online. Reservationists are also available for ticket sales via phone 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. seven days a week. Visitors are encouraged to visit neaq.org to learn more about what to expect from the Aquarium experience, including a Frequently Asked Questions section.

Media should look out for an invite in the coming week for special access on July 15 to preview the facility changes and schedule interviews with Aquarium leadership.

A BROLL PACKAGE OF VIDEO AND PHOTOS ILLUSTRATING THE NEW VISITOR EXPERIENCE CAN BE FOUND HERE.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Pam Bechtold Snyder, psnyder@neaq.org; 617-686-5068