BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Aquarium will reopen to the public on Thursday with new safety protocols in place due to the coronavirus.

“We are so excited to be welcoming our visitors back,” said New England Aquarium President and CEO Vikki Spruill.

Every yea, more than 1.3 million people come to the aquarium to check out the penguins, the turtles, the seals and more.

“We have been closed for 18 weeks which is hard to believe,” said Spruill. “But we have still had to take care of our 20,000 animals during that time.”

New England Aquarium (WBZ-TV)

If you are planning a visit, you must make your reservations online. Ticket times are spaced every 20 minutes, but you can stay as long as you want.

“We have added a one-way flow around the aquarium to keep people moving in the same direction,” said Glenn Remick, the aquarium’s Director of Project Management, Exhibits, and Planning. “We have added hand sanitizers everywhere; we have increased our cleaning protocols and our safety protocols.”

Don’t expect the aquarium to be packed either.

“We are doing 15% occupancy and the city and state are allowing up to 40% so we’re starting with lower numbers so that we can make sure we get everything exactly right because safety is our top priority,” Spruill said.

Workers also moved out some benches inside to give visitors more room to space out.

“Through all of that we really didn’t reduce our visitor experience very much,” Remick said. “All of our live exhibits with very few exceptions will be open.”

“Life goes on inside the walls of the New England Aquarium and we are just happy to share that now with our visitors,” Spruill said.

Like most public places, masks will be required and when the aquarium first opens the cafe will be closed so you may want to bring a snack.

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