The Tower of London: Re-opening Plan

We supported Historic Royal Palaces plan to safely re-open and implement social distancing measures


Movement Strategies (MS) has been providing visitor movement and circulation advice to Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) since 2013, informing its strategy at three of their sites: The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace. We were commissioned to support the re-opening plans for the Tower of London, considering social distancing requirements for its visitors and staff.


Historic Royal Palaces


The charity has faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing it to close all its sites on 20 March 2020. The tourism industry has been devastated, with the public having low confidence [1] in returning to visitor attractions once the lockdown eases. In response to these challenges, HRP asked MS to support its planning to re-open the Tower of London safely and implement Social Distancing (SD) measures.


The primary objective of the study was to carry out a spatial analysis considering SD guidelines to determine the capacities of key circulation and exhibition spaces and subsequently, the overall capacity of the Tower.


The results of the quantitative analysis helped shape measures to be considered in HRP’s reopening plan, including:

  • A significant reduction in visitor capacity initially, with a progressive increase planned as restrictions are eased. A timed ticketing system will be used to control numbers throughout the day.
  • Limit staff/visitor interactions through online ticket booking, self-service, etc.
  • A one-way routing system throughout the site to minimise social contact.
  • Focussing on the safe opening of key indoor areas that can be operated safely, while keeping those areas closed that present higher risks of transmission. This included repurposing the use of outdoor areas that present a lower risk.
  • Visitor flow monitoring and occupancy caps of indoor spaces.
  • Wayfinding signage and messaging to support the new operational measures in order to influence visitor behaviour and reinforce public trust.
  • Other health measures such as hand-sanitising stations, cleaning strategy, protective equipment, etc.

Our advice has helped HRP shape its response to the current crisis and demonstrates its commitment to the health and safety of its visitors and staff. The reopening plan aims to drive HRP’s recovery and create a more resilient operating strategy until such time normal operations can resume.  


”Over the past 7 years, Movement Strategies have worked with us to understand visitor flow in some of our busiest spaces and most complicated historic interiors, informing critical decisions as we plan new projects. When planning the re-opening of the Tower of London with social distancing, we asked Movement Strategies to model visitor flow in order to ensure we had robust numbers and evidenced recommendations on which to build operating plans which will ensure the safety of our visitors and staff. Movement Strategies are always a pleasure to work with, with a collaborative approach and a genuine interest in understanding our sites and visitors.”  

Aileen Peirce, Head of Interpretation & Design


[1] Recent research conducted by the UK’s Association of Leading Visitor Attractions shows  that only 16% of people would visit a visitor attraction “as soon as the opportunity arises”, while the remaining 84% said they would wait for a short while or a long time.

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