The National Trust has announced a phased reopening of its gardens and parklands across England and Northern Ireland from Wednesday 3rd June, following government advice.
After being shut for 10 weeks, 29 Trust locations will begin to open their doors to people with pre-purchased tickets only. While the beautiful outdoor spaces will welcome visitors, the Trust's indoor sites – including houses, cafés and shops – will remain closed for the foreseeable.
In March, the Trust decided to open their parks and gardens for free to provide everyone with a place to enjoy some fresh air during social distancing. However, after stricter lockdown measures were implemented, Director General Hilary McGrady reversed the decision.
The new decision to reopen comes after the UK government updated its advice on ticketed garden venues on 23rd May, confirming that people in England can now visit gardens and land maintained for public use.
The charity is also urging people to limit how many visits they book, to stay local if they can, and to avoid busy hot-spots, too. "We want to provide safe, local, welcoming spaces for people, and wherever possible we will open our gardens and parks, and coast and countryside car parks," Hilary McGrady, Director General, said.
"The fresh air, bird song, big skies and open spaces people have missed will be there, but things will be very different, particularly at first. We want to thank people for their patience and support while we gradually begin reopening and welcoming our visitors."
An online booking system will enable members and non-members to purchase tickets, while car parks will also be monitored to check capacity levels. The gardens won't open until Wednesday 3rd June, but people can pre-book their tickets online already. Opening decisions will be made with safety and local conditions in mind.
Hilary McGrady also added: "I am so thankful that our members and supporters have stood by us as we work through these unprecedented times. We know they desperately want to return to our places, and we need their support to do our vital conservation work to look after the coastline, countryside, rivers and properties in our care.
"Like so many other organisations, the Trust has been badly affected by the coronavirus lockdown, not least our vital conservation work and our finances. Reopening is the first phase of our recovery, and we need our members and supporters to help us make this gradual transition a success so we can get back to offering nature, beauty and history for everyone."
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