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May 14, 2020

INSIDE LOOK | The New Normal at the Florida Aquarium

By Laura Byrne

The Florida Aquarium was among the first aquariums in the country to reopen after pandemic related closures.

There was a lot of thought and work put into the reopening including a 41 page report and an additional walk through by the Tampa General Hospital Infectious Disease Prevention team to ensure every step is being taken to protect your family, aquarium staff and the animals.

Among the most noticeable changes…you’ll need to book a reservation online. This includes members too. As of right now, 75 people will be allowed in each half hour. This will allow for you and the kids to have plenty of space to practice social distancing. You’ll also want to arrive on time and no early entries will be permitted.

And don’t forget your cloth mask or face mask! The Aquarium is now requiring all guests wear a mask to align with CDC guidelines. Kids under the age of 2 are not advised to wear a mask according to the CDC, so keep them close to you. Baby wearing is a favorite among our team of moms!

CLICK here to reserve your time slot.

When you book online, you’ll see that reservations can be booked in 30 minute time slots and group tickets will be limited to 8. You’ll also have the option to pre-pay for parking if you are not a member.

new normal at Florida Aquarium
Check in will be contactless. You’ll scan your reservation on your phone at the front desk.

Here are the other most obvious changes you’ll see during your visit: staff and volunteers will be wearing masks. Know that before they started their shift, their temperatures were taken. As we mentioned, guests will need to wear masks as well. If you do not have one, a mask will be provided for you.

Related: Cloth Masks: Where to buy and how to make your own

Physical distancing of 6 feet or more will also be strongly encouraged and you’ll see plenty of reminders along the way in the form of stickers on the floor and signs on the walls. There will also be a one-way flow of foot traffic through the exhibits.

new normal at Florida Aquarium
Partitions are up in several places to allow you to still ask questions without contact.

You’ll likely take notice of additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the Aquarium, so take advantage of it! Just make sure you keep those hands wet with sanitizer for at least 20 seconds to ensure proper sanitization.

The Splash Pad reopened later in June, but you’ll have to book your time slot when you arrive at the kiosk up front.

Related: Our Favorite Social Distancing Friendly Things to Do with the Kids in Tampa Bay

We went on a walk through on opening day for Aquarium members so you can see what it’s like to visit the Aquarium during this new normal. This is a terrific way to introduce your kids to the new normal of wearing a face mask in public.

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