The National Archives (TNA) in a time of pandemic
The National Archives reopened about four weeks ago, but warned that numbers of users and facilities would be severely limited. To this end they put in place an Eventbrite booking system - no charge, of course, but you had to be lucky - early - enough to get one of the tickets. Only one per week was permitted. Eventually, on 27th July I managed to book a slot - for 13th August. We were allowed only 6 documents or volumes, which had to be detailed with the booking, and the place was open from 10 to 2.50pm. Only the first floor reading room would be open.
So, on Thursday of this week I finally got there - they had just announced that they will open up the second floor and map rooms, and allow up to nine documents from Tuesday 25th August. It was all very, very organised, and the one of the gentlemen checking bags and tickets etc said that because people had staggered their entry times, (I got there at 10.30 and there was no queue), it had alll been very manageable. My seat number and locker number were linked - and when I got to the reading room I found I had a whole 8-seater table to myself - as did each of the c. 40-50 peopel there. The documents I had ordered were already on a trolley beside my table, along with preservation aids (supports etc). No paper was allowed in ... since they did not want their staff to have to handle readers' property to check it. The cafe and bookshop weren't open, of course, - it wouldn't be worth it for the numbers there, but the water fountain was working and the toilets were open.
So research is possible again ... And its worth remembering that digital archives, which we normally have to pay in the order of £3.50 per document, are currently free, up to 50 per 30 days. https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/news/digital-downloads/