Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Colonial Williamsburg is open under limited capacity. So what’s being done to protect the health of visitors, employees?

Summer is Colonial Williamsburg’s busiest time, making safety guidelines more important than ever. (WYDaily/Courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

It’s been a little more than two months since Virginia has entered Phase 3 of reopening. In that time, tourist attractions like Great Wolf Lodge and Busch Gardens — albeit by special events — have announced reopening under limited capacity.

Colonial Williamsburg is also open to the public, but there of course have been some changes made to ensure public safety.

Guests are encouraged to buy tickets online as the Rockefeller Library and Merchants Square Ticket Office remain closed. The Visitor Center is open under reduced capacity as are the buses and shuttles.

Doors, faucets and other high-traffic touchpoints are now touchless, according to a news release from Sept. 1. There are also significantly enhanced cleaning protocols throughout the foundation’s open locations.

Interpreters can be seen wearing masks and signs have been put up to remind guests to do the same. Plexiglass barriers have also been added at locations where guests queue.

The main trouble seems to be keeping crowds from clustering on sidewalks and around Merchants Square.

“Streets and sidewalks in the Historic Area and Merchants are public spaces,” Colonial Williamsburg spokesman Joe Straw wrote in an email. “Face coverings are required while inside Foundation-owned buildings and their use is encouraged outdoors as well.”

“Guests are also asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines during their visit to Colonial Williamsburg sites, when walking along Duke of Gloucester Street and in other publicly accessible areas,” he added.

But is asking people to comply with safety guidelines enough?

“Guests who decline to follow the Foundation’s safety protocols are not permitted to enter Foundation buildings, including those in the Historic Area and the Art Museums,” Straw said. “In general, our guests have complied with our safety protocols, which are for the protections of our guests, employees, and volunteers.”

As for employees, they do have an adequate amount of personal protective equipment and have received updated training in response to COVID-19, Straw said, but he did not elaborate in what capacities.

Here’s a link for dining options. Straw did not elaborate on why the King’s Arms Tavern and Shield’s Tavern both remain temporarily closed.

As the foundation moves into the fall season, guests can enjoy free admission through Dec. 31 for the price of a multi-day ticket, according to the Sept. 1 news release. Most interpretive programs has been moved outdoors, but the news release does not specify what attractions may be reopening and when.

Straw said Colonial Williamsburg will continue to closely monitor public health guidance as flu season approaches.

“Resumed public operations are dependent upon continued reduced health risk,” he said. “Colonial Williamsburg continues to work closely with government agencies, healthcare and private-sector organizations, William & Mary and others.”


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