People are getting creative and trying to entertain themselves in different ways, at home or outdoors. Nevertheless, it’s important that the leisure industry is opening again, so we can bring back much needed smiles on people faces and to give them a chance to escape into another world and give them a moment to forget everything that is going on.

But with an epidemic going on it will be very hard to get people come visit you again. In order to be appealing and re-earn their trust you need to provide a safe environment to your guests. At SeaLife Helsinki we have implemented several measures to maintain the health and safety of our guests, staff and animals. If there would be the slightest concern that we could not guarantee this, we wouldn’t proceed to re-open our attraction. However, we believe that with the necessary precautions and measures taken we can re-open our attraction and provide a safe environment for our guests, staff and animals to ensure their continued welfare. These measures are in line with the regulations and restrictions of the Finnish government and Merlin Entertainments. But how to you implement a safe environment?

We started by bringing back our capacity in line with government restrictions. We have introduced new capacity limits for our attraction. These restrictions will help ensure there is plenty of room for social distancing throughout the guests visit. To be able to regulate that restrictions our guests will need to book a timeslot online to safeguard their entrance to the attraction. Our guests will be able to book a ticket with a timeslot or, if they already have a ticket or voucher, solely a timeslot. We have adapted or suspended some experiences or facilities to ensure that social distancing is suitably maintained. For example, the cancellation of our summer camps, provision of costume character ‘meet and greets’, interactive play areas, or touch pools have either been modified or suspended.

Our guest will notice new information signage online, upon arrival and throughout the attraction informing them of key safety measures and instructions such as ‘please pay cashless’, ‘please keep 2m apart’, handwash & sanitize instructions and so on.

We have implemented an enhanced cleaning regime throughout the day which seek to disinfect high-frequently touch points such as tables and chairs, service counters, door handles, taps, etc. We have introduced several hygiene stations/hand sanitizer dispensers around the attraction for guests to use. As with our employees, we politely request that all our guests uphold the highest possible hygiene standards – whether it be when sneezing or coughing, through regular hand washing or the frequent application of hand sanitizer.

For all of our staff members we have set up a special on- and offline training to inform them about all the measures in the attraction and the new way of operating. They are participating in COVID-19 specific training programmes instructing them how to stay safe and well as how to keep our guests safe. We have installed new hygiene screens at all our service counters to help physically separate guests from employees. Our employees will work in separate teams so we can safeguard our business continuity and animal welfare. For those employees who usually work in the office, working from home is encouraged to provide enough space for those who must be at the attraction.

How have we been able to be so proactive and well prepared to be able to open our doors again at such an early state?

At SeaLife Helsinki we have been fortunate to receive support, by the shared knowledge and experience from our mother company Merlin Entertainments. Merlin has over 130 attractions, both indoor, outdoor and hotels, around the globe and gathered all information and experience from the closures and reopening of attractions in Asia, Australia and around Europe. During the weeks of closure, we have been preparing for ‘the worst’.

Because restrictions and regulations are different in every country, we were able to prepare for re-opening with all the measures imaginable, including health/temperature checks upon arrival of staff and guests, mandatory wear of facemasks, etc, in a very early stage. A platform like Happymoor Harbour could help other local businesses too by sharing such valuable and helpful information, tips & tricks and support throughout such exceptional situations as we are in today. Together we can form a unity towards local government and emphasize the importancy of the re-opening of our businesses and the implementation of measures that come with that, to clearly explain on how we will safeguard the visit from our guests in our businesses. Together we can always achieve more than alone.

Michelle Hoeneveld
General Manager
SeaLife Helsinki