Angus communities fear the pandemic could claim the area’s smaller museums.
The doors to Brechin Town House and Kirriemuir’s Gateway to the Glens remain locked, having not welcomed a visitor across the threshold for 18 months.
Angus Alive has re-opened many of its facilities, including larger museums in Arbroath, Forfar and Montrose.
But Kirrie and Brechin will not re-open before October at the earliest.
Community figures say in both towns are fearful the delay will give the council’s arms’ length leisure trust the “excuse” it needs to axe the attractions.
Brechin community council chairwoman Jill Scott said: “No-one disputes the dreadful impact of pandemic, but I really thought we would have moved on with the next phase of openings.
“Our much-loved museum has missed all of the school holiday period and when it eventually opens we’ll be heading into the reduced winter hours which have already badly hit visitor numbers.
“The Visit Angus app has just been launched and there are huge numbers of staycation visitors around but it’s no use if they are getting a locked door.
She added: “I know Brechin is one of the smaller museums, but if small shops can open and manage the numbers entering their premises then I can’t see why the museum would be any different.
“There are never going to be 100 people standing outside the door of Brechin or Kirrie waiting to get in, but I have seen people looking into the museum and wondering if it is open.
“I think the pandemic will give them the perfect excuse not too far down the road to say it’s not working and will have to shut.”
The community leader also wants to see increased hours at the local library for people using the council’s Access services.
“It’s still only open Tuesday and Saturday mornings. With restrictions lifted residents are keen to see us return to some sort of normality, and this should be classed an essential service.
“It has two doors so could easily be adapted to a one-way system.
“It would appear that all businesses have had to adapt a way of working through Covid-19, I cannot understand why Angus Alive has not.”
Two decades of award-winning Kirrie museum
Kirriemuir historian Dave Orr harbours similar worries over the long-term future of the award-winning Gateway to the Glens, which opened in 2001.
“From the get go this has been a really successful museum,” he said.
“It was visited by The Queen when she came to Angus in 2004 and that was a great day for the museum and the Friends group which ran very successfully for so long.
“When it was first opened it used really innovative small screens to provide so much information that made it accessible to everyone without physical objects being present because of the limited space.
“But they need to save money and are looking for any excuse.
“The reduction to winter hours was a self-fulfilling prophecy when visitor numbers went down and if it’s not opening before October we are straight back into that.
“Museums are normally the sort of place visitors just like to drop in to, but there are so many places now where you are being asked to book because of the pandemic. If it’s closed it might just put you off planning a day in Kirrie.”
‘We know people may be disappointed’ – Angus Alive
“Angus Alive is unable to make any immediate changes to its service offering until we receive further detailed guidance from the Scottish Government and other relevant sports and cultural bodies on what the changes will mean for us in terms of operations and programming.
“We will look to make changes, where possible, to gradually increase our offering over the coming weeks and months once more clarity is received.
“The current opening hours across our sites will continue for this next phase of our recovery and any changes will be made from October 1 at the earliest following approval from Angus Council.
“We know that some people may be disappointed with this announcement but it’s important that we review the specific sector guidance in relation to reopening of services as well as continue to follow the relevant Covid safety requirements which will remain in place, such as ventilation which impacts on capacity levels within our venues.”
The trust added: “It’s important to highlight the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on our ability to operate and generate income as it has for many other organisations.
“Consequently it’s vital we continue to manage the negative financial implications of the crisis on our organisation carefully to ensure the longevity and sustainability of the charity in the months and years ahead.
“This means we will need to reopen gradually, in line with demand and affordability as well as to ensure the safety of our colleagues and customers.”