The Florida Aquarium to reopen on May 15
The Florida Aquarium is among several Tampa Bay cultural attractions closed temporarily due to coronavirus.

Florida Aquarium visit shutdown
Tampa Bay attraction has been closed since mid-March.

The Florida Aquarium will reopen to the public on May 15.

The Tampa attraction will become one of Florida’s first major attractions to open doors as part of a reopening of institutions in the state. Gate attendants will welcome guests 11 days after the launch of Phase One of reopening non-essential businesses during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

But the aquarium will have in place a number of strict restrictions. Attendance will be limited, as will programming, as staff implement new standards to protect the health of staff, visitors and animals.

“After nearly eight weeks of being closed to the public, we are excited to reopen our doors to fulfill our mission as well as support Tampa Bay’s healing process now that our state and region has begun the re- opening process,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium.

“The health, safety, and wellbeing of every guest is our utmost priority! We are taking a phased, controlled approach to reopening and have customized the guest experience to continue to deliver a world-class experience while ensuring we operate safely, responsibly and sustainably.”

An outdoor play area and any animal touch exhibits will remain closed at the Aquarium for now.

Tickets, which can be reserved starting May 7, can only be purchased online at the moment.

Staff will be required to wear masks in public settings, and a number of new sanitary practices with disinfecting surfaces will be put in place.

The Aquarium was among several institutions in Tampa Bay to close mid-March as COVID-19 cases in Florida were still escalating rapidly.

The past month, though, has shown a clear flattening of the curve in terms of new cases.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor welcomed the re-opening of the Aquarium.

“We are grateful for The Florida Aquarium’s continued support to protect the health and safety of those in our community. By implementing added safety measures and capacity limits, The Florida Aquarium is taking a smart and phased approach to re-opening responsibly,” Castor said.

“I urge visitors to practice safe social distancing, wash your hands, wear a face-covering in congested areas, and keep the health of our vulnerable neighbors in mind. Step by step, we can get back to all the things we love about our city, but we have to work together.”

Likewise, leaders at the institution said it was time to re-open, while stressing the precautions being taken.

“We have been preparing for our re-opening for several weeks. From conducting a deep clean of all exhibits to removing unnecessary touchpoints to requiring online ticket sales, The Florida Aquarium is well prepared to provide a safe, clean and fun experience for our guests,” said Andy Wood, Chief Operating Officer.

“We will continue to coordinate with local, state and federal agencies and public health officials and are prepared to make any and all adjustments necessary now and after we open, to maintain the highest standards of health and safety for all.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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