Science World offers essential workers and their families 4 days of free admission prior to Aug. 1 reopening
Vancouver attraction opens to essential workers for 4 days starting Thursday before opening to public
B.C. parents looking for kid-friendly holiday activities can now put Science World back on the summer bucket list.
The Vancouver attraction shut its doors on March 14 due to COVID-19, but now that Phase 3 of the government's pandemic response plan is in full swing, visitors will be able to return to the landmark geodesic dome on Aug. 1.
Science World interim president and CEO Janet Wood said prior to the pandemic, an average of 2,500 people per day would pass through the space. When it reopens, a maximum of 1,440 daily visitors will be allowed to ensure physical distancing.
Visitors must book their tickets online in advance and can expect to spend up to three hours in the dome.
"We feel that we are a very, very safe and yet still fun place to visit," said Wood.
Science World staff and volunteers will be wearing masks or face shields and it will be mandatory for visitors aged six and over to do the same.
New pathways have been created inside to help maintain safe distances between guests and hand-sanitizing stations are also available throughout the building.
The current special exhibition, Towers of Tomorrow with Lego Bricks, features models of the top 20 high-rises in the world made out of the toy building blocks, and visitors can practise building with Lego themselves.
Wood said all visitors will be given their own personal bucket of Lego to build with and those bricks will be sanitized before being used again.
"They will be brand-new clean when you get them," said Wood.
Prior to reopening for the general public, staff at Science World welcomed members only for four days to pilot their new protocols.
Following that pilot, "thousands and thousands of invitations", according to Wood, went out to essential workers and their families offering four days of admission-free attendance.
If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, Wood said, it may be that people are now more attuned to the importance of science in our modern world.
"Science is everywhere, through this entire COVID, so we really think it is going to really enlighten and enhance the perception of science," said Wood.
Woods said so far Science World, which normally has an annual budget of $18 million, has largely been running on funds from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program and on savings, but that its survival is dependent on reopening.
Part-time staff were temporarily laid off in early April, full-time staff have taken a 20 per cent pay cut, and Wood has taken a 40 per cent pay cut.
As of July 27, tickets to Science World can be booked online for Aug. 1 and beyond.
To hear CBC's Jason D'Souza speak with Janet Wood and some excited kids at Science World, tap here.
With files from The Early Edition