With only 20 people allowed into the National Portrait Gallery each hour - and hand sanitiser on offer at every turn - the first visitors after the gallery's doors could reopen on Saturday got a unique opportunity to see the collection.
Artist Daniela Cristallo and her husband, Ron Saleh, were among the visitors at the 12pm session, having travelled to Canberra from Sydney to make the most of eased restrictions.
Cristallo said it had felt like a lifetime since she had been to a gallery.
"I was actually really looking forward to just getting back in a gallery to be honest. It's a really nice feeling. It's like a relief," Cristallo said.
The pair had also visited the National Gallery across the road, taking advantage of the opportunity to see both institutions soon after they had reopened.
Cristallo said she enjoyed the unusual experience of a socially distanced gallery.
"You're very aware of what's going on, so it's almost a kind of acceptance [that this is our new reality]. And I think we're all kind of programmed now a little bit to be quite conscious [of the spaces we're in]," she said.
"But yeah, I think not having to deal with the crowds is actually really nice. I don't mind at all."
The gallery's compliance and risk management adviser, Adam Samuelson, said excitement had built for the gallery's staff after a firm reopening date could be fixed.
"I think with a particular focus on safety, we're all very keen to get back into it and to welcome visitors again," Mr Samuelson said.
Mr Samuelson, who has led the gallery's plans to find a safe way to reopen after closing to slow the spread of coronavirus, said the period with limited numbers could be the best time to see the collection.
"I get to go down before opening hours and have a look around. When there's so few people in the gallery, it really is a special experience. In some ways, it is great that there are going to be hundreds of people who are going to have that experience here," he said.
Mr Samuelson said the gallery's spaces had been measured, signs installed and security staff would be keeping an eye on the closed-circuit television footage to see if any unforeseen congregation points popped up.
"You can go through and look at our two exhibitions and then move out of the gallery without having to touch anything. You don't have to come with 1.5 metres of anyone because there's so few people and we have hand sanitiser available throughout the gallery," he said.
While visitors would be welcomed back - and the gallery looked forward to allowing 50 and then 100 people for each session - Mr Samuelson said people in high-risk groups should reconsider at the moment.
"If they're in a high-risk group, they need to look after themselves and they should probably reconsider unnecessary public trips. But, for everyone else, you can come to our gallery and see our exhibitions," he said.