CULTURAL venues including galleries and historic sites will reopen before the end of July in Southend.

The Focal Point Gallery in The Forum on Elmer Square will reopen on Wednesday with social distancing and enhanced cleaning measures.

Visitors will be able to see “In my Room”, the first solo institutional exhibition by artists Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, bringing together film, fresco painting and works on paper.

The exhibition builds on their travels across the UK whilst making "UK Gay Bar Directory", an image archive of gay bars.

The opening of Focal Point Gallery follows an announcement last week that Southend Pier will start reopening to the public from Monday.

A phased return of library services, starting with a “click and collect” service, also starts from Monday, while plans continue to be developed for reopening the town’s libraries for browsing and other services.

Work is also underway to reopen the historic Prittlewell Priory in Priory Park from July 29, subject to approval of a Covid-19 risk assessment.

Opening dates for The Cliffs Pavilion, The Palace Theatre, Southend Central Museum, the Beecroft Gallery and Southchurch Hall will be announced at a later date as risk assessments are undertaken.

A Southend Safe kite mark scheme is being rolled out to hospitality businesses and organisations, with firms being encouraged to apply for and display the logo to demonstrate they meet new safety standards around distancing, hygiene and other measures put in place by the government. 

Kevin Robinson, councillor responsible for business, culture and tourism, said: “As lockdown gradually eases, our focus now is on keeping people as safe as possible while reopening our cultural venues for residents and visitors to enjoy.

“Cultural activities are proven to have enormous benefits in terms of mental health and wellbeing, which for many people will have suffered during lockdown, so we want residents to have confidence that they can start enjoying local culture safely again.

“Culture is also crucial to the prosperity of the town as a whole, so reopening these venues safely will play an important role in the town’s economic recovery from lockdown.

“A full return to life as normal will take some time and is very much dependent on how we all follow government guidance to keep ourselves and others safe from coronavirus and bring the risk of transmission down.

"Therefore, I encourage residents and businesses to keep abreast of the latest government guidance and do their bit to keep each other safe.”

To keep up to date about businesses reopening in Southend, visit