Mystic Aquarium reopening to public Friday, changes for visitors and staff for health safety

Animals and Wildlife

MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Mystic Aquarium will be reopening its doors to the public later this week with limited capacity as part of phase one of Governor Ned Lamont’s plan to reopen Connecticut. The new health safety measures in place protect not only visitors but the animals and staff.

The aquarium is slated to have a soft opening on Wednesday, May 20, and Thursday, May 21 for its members and frontline workers.

They will then be open to the general public starting Friday, May 22.

RELATED: Guidelines for restaurants, retailers, hair salons and offices reopening on May 20

They won’t be admitting more than 50% of their normal capacity. Visitors are asked to plan ahead and reserved a timed-ticket. This also removes interaction between the public and staff at the ticket windows, removing possibilities of virus transfer. The timed tickets, sold in two-hour intervals, will help the aquarium control capacity. Only the outdoor portion of the aquarium will be open, per state guidelines.

WEB EXTRA: Tuesday, Mystic Aquarium Director of Safety and Security, Nate Fague, announces their plan for reopening on this week.

Upon entering the aquarium, guests will be subject to a “discreet mandatory temperature screening” to follow CDC recommendations. Guests and employees will be required to wear face coverings. The staff and volunteers will also wear additional PPE.

Visitors will be asked to follow a one-way route around the campus. There will also be signage posted on the ground and walls regarding the social distancing guidelines. Visitors are reminded to stay six feet away from others to maintain social distancing guidelines. Physical barriers and hand sanitizing stations are being installed too.

Social distancing markers at Mystic Aquarium on May 19, 2020. Orange markers say “Wait Here.” Green markers say “Viewing Spot.” (Photo: News 8’s Tina Detelj)

“We’re asking that folks are just respectful and they wait at the ‘wait here’ markers until a viewing area has opened up from another group of guests,” said Nate Fague who is the aquarium’s Director of Safety and Security. “We have yellow arrows” for guests to follow, explained Fague while pointing to the one-way arrows taped to the ground throughout the aquarium.

“Masks required for everyone unless its contrary to a health condition or something like that,” added Fague.

Visitors will still be able to engage Juno, one of the aquarium’s amicable beluga whales. Just try not to touch the Plexiglas at his exhibit.

“We ask that our visitors stay maybe two feet away,” said Fague.

One more change is to the crawl spaces built into the rocks near the Beluga exhibit. Those are now blocked off. 

(Photo: News 8’s Tina Detelj)

Mystic Aquarium said they normally follow strict cleaning standards year-round and will increase vigilance for the rest of the pandemic. The aquarium staff will continue to regularly clean all areas of the campus, and they are currently being trained on new cleaning protocols.

The huge glass beluga exhibit wall along with other public spaces will be cleaned regularly using a BIOSPRAY portable sanitizing system. Hand washing and sanitizing stations are also placed throughout the aquarium and marked with signs.

A full-time overnight crew will continue to deep clean all spaces at the end of each day, aquarium officials said.

All staff members are undergoing health screening before entering the facility. Officials encourage staff and guests who feel sick to stay home.

But like many of the changes, that is temporary, and if restrictions from the state are lifted, the wooden barriers could be removed.

“We’re really excited to be able to offer a safe and friendly, inviting, comfortable facility for families to visit,” said Fague.

The aquarium says staff and many of the animals are looking forward to having visitors return. 

To get a bird’s eye view of what to expect when you visit the zoo, check out the aquarium’s twitter page. For more information, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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