MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Tuesday the Science Museum of Minnesota announced that it will shift to online-only programming, and temporarily lay off 400 of its employees.

The layoffs will leave 87% of the museum’s staff out of work for the time being amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Minnesota. A small number of people will continue to work to provide online programming, as well as security and maintenance.

The museum has been closed since Friday, March 13, under the guidance of Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Now layoffs will take effect on April 2. The Science Museum had been paying employees since the closure, and it says it will continue to pay medical benefits through April 30.

CEO Alison Brown released a statement on Tuesday:

Closing was the right decision for the health and safety of our employees, volunteers and visitors, but it is creating a financial hardship during our busiest time of the year. Temporarily laying off employees was a tough decision. It is unfortunately necessary as we consider the long-term viability of the museum.

We are operating off of a 12-week closure plan. We hope that it doesn’t last that long, but we are also planning for if it needs to last even longer. This is a challenging time for everyone, and we are doing everything we can to protect this cultural resource for Minnesotans.

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