New England Aquarium announces layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts, and reduced work schedules

"Though we are confident that these changes were the right move to protect the future of the Aquarium, it was nonetheless a heartbreaking decision; every member of our team is fiercely committed to the Aquarium and its mission."

BOSTON, MA - 3/19/2020: Where have all the people gone....a harbor seal looks from an outdoor tank by front entrance at The New England Aquarium in Boston. The staff is taking care of all it's inhabitants cleaning and feeding daily during this COVID-19 coronavirus crisis with the help of its staff and the loss of volunteers that are staying home. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff ) SECTION:  METRO TOPIC:stand alone photo
–David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

The following is a release from the New England Aquarium:

BOSTON, MA (April 3, 2020) – The New England Aquarium today announced that it is taking decisive action to cut costs and preserve and protect the institution in the face of declining revenue from the impacts of COVID-19. Statement from New England Aquarium President and CEO Vikki N. Spruill below.

“On March 13, the New England Aquarium closed our facilities to visitors in response to the public health crisis created by COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Like many zoos and aquariums, the majority of our revenue comes from ticket sales and events. This revenue supports 80 percent of our monthly $3.5 million operational expenses, from critical care of our 20,000 animals and the infrastructures that support them to our educational programs and ocean science and conservation activities.

With our doors closed to the public for an indefinite period and the possibility of an economic downturn ahead, we have made the difficult decision to significantly decrease our budget in order to preserve the resources necessary to outlast the disruptions caused by the virus.

This involves non-labor and labor expense reductions, including layoffs, furloughs, and reduced work schedules for a significant portion of our full- and part-time staff. Individuals impacted by layoffs and furloughs will receive two weeks’ pay and continued full coverage of health care benefits for the next three months. Remaining staff making more than $75,000 will take salary reductions. Our intention is to rehire our furloughed employees once we reopen, though likely in a phased manner given the uncertainty of behavior patterns after the health crisis has passed.

In order to maintain streamlined operations and mission fulfillment, including exceptional animal care and virtual educational programming, we launched the Mission Forward Fund for charitable donations and are exploring federal, state, and city funding.

Though we are confident that these changes were the right move to protect the future of the Aquarium, it was nonetheless a heartbreaking decision; every member of our team is fiercely committed to the Aquarium and its mission.

We know this approach will give us the stability we need to return from this moment stronger than ever. We will continue to be a powerful force in this community and for our blue planet.”

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