The long-awaited reopening of Hazelhurst Arts Centre at Gymea after almost three months has been welcomed by the arts community and the general public alike.
The Sutherland Shire Council-run centre will reopen from Monday, June 22, albeit with shorter operating hours and other measures.
A statement on Hazelhurst's website said the "health and well-being of the community and our staff remains our top priority and we've been carefully planning the measures we need to implement, in line with government restrictions and health guidelines".
"One measure we all are aware of is the need for social distancing, which means we need to limit the numbers in the gallery, our studios and café," it said.
The art centre will open 9am to 5pm while the regional gallery will open 10am to 4pm. The café will open 9am-3pm.
Plans to have people book their visit via its website have been scrapped, a council spokesman said.
Instead, staff will monitor visitor numbers to ensure the gallery spaces are not overcrowded, he said.
Art classes, including the term art class program and school holiday program, remain on hold "until further notice". In the meantime, Hazelhurst has created some free activities for families to enjoy in the gardens.
A number of enhanced measures will be in place, which include:
- Asking all visitors to sign in with your name and contact details using the iPads situated at each entrance, to support contact tracing.
- Limiting numbers in the gallery and the café to allow for four square metres per person.
- Requesting that you do not visit in large groups.
- Providing signage and distance markers throughout the building to ensure physical distancing of 1.5 metres.
- Enhanced daily cleaning regimes including high-touch items.
- Ensuring adequate hand-washing facilities and sanitiser are available at various points throughout Hazelhurst.
- Accepting no cash, card transactions only, apart from the café
- Sanitising the gallery's wheelchairs after each use.
Hazelhurst chairman Byron Hurst said everyone was excited to welcome visitors again.
"We are delighted to have people back," he said.
"There was really nothing open for people who are interested in the visual arts. It had all closed down so we are expecting a lot of people, especially retired people looking for something to do during the day."
He said every step would be taken to ensure visitors' safety.
"People can be reassured that we will be following all the Department of Health guidelines," he said.
Mr Hurst said the café would reopen with a smaller menu to provide a quicker service to patrons.
He said Hazelhurst exhibitions were extremely popular, with one, Southern Swell, attracting more than 26,000 visitors during its run.
Two exhibitions will be held to mark the reopening; ARTEXPRESS and Peter & Paul in Print.
Mr Hurst said the centre's reopening would be especially welcomed by HSC visual arts students.
"We are really excited to have ARTEXPRESS because so many students have had their HSC year disrupted so this is a chance for them to go up to Hazelhurst and get some inspiration," he said.
The ARTEXPRESS exhibition has been extended after being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Details: Click here.