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What is COVID-19?


Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an illness caused by a new strain of Coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the disease a pandemic in March 2020. 

Due to the continually evolving nature of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) we recommend regularly checking the Scottish Government and NHS Inform websites for up to date information. 


The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a fever or high temperature (37.8 Celsius or higher) and/or
  • a new continuous cough 
  • loss/change in your normal sense of smell or taste

A continuous cough is described by NHS Inform as:

  • a new cough that’s lasted for an hour
  • 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours
  • coughing more than usual

If you are concerned that you may have these symptoms you should visit the NHS Inform website or call NHS 24 (111) for further advice. Anyone developing any of these symptoms should immediately stay at home to self isolate. 

Advice for those self isolating

Measures to prevent spreading infection

To prevent further spread of infection the Scottish Government has produced simple advice to protect yourself and others. 

  • stay at home
  • only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons
  • stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
  • wash your hands regularly                                                              
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home

The Scottish Government has also recommended that the public use a cloth covering over their nose and mouth in enclosed buildings and public transport where it is difficult to adhere to social distancing measures. This advice became mandatory from 10/07/2020/ 

The World Health Organisation have produced a short video to help explain why measures such as frequent hand washing helps to contain the spread of Coronavirus (includes closed captioning).

NHS Inform advice on social distancing

Social distancing and museums and galleries

The Scottish Government's measures on safe reopening and operational guidance for museums was published in July 2020. The guidance sets out minimum expectations across key areas organisations will need to consider as part of their planning for a restart and ongoing production while minimising the transmission of the virus. This guidance is regularly updated by the Scottish Government to reflect the changing advice on managing Coronavirus. 

View guidance on reopening and running your museum safely

Related guide

Financial support for museums during COVID-19

This guide contains sources of financial support for museums currently dealing with the effects of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus outbreak.

Find out more