The National Trust is to begin opening gardens and parkland properties in England and Northern Ireland for people who have booked in advance as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased - and tickets have already sold out.
Boris Johnson announced that groups of up to six people from separate households will be allowed to meet outdoors from Monday in his daily briefing on Thursday evening, and many will be keen to head to the beauty spots.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is also reopening its four gardens around England with a pre-booked tickets system as rules around lockdown begin to ease.
The moves come after the UK government amended regulations to confirm that people in England could visit gardens and land maintained for public use, while in Northern Ireland the Executive permitted the reopening of outdoor spaces.
However the charities have urged people to ‘stay local’ after Matt Hancock warned that whole towns could be forced into lockdown if coronavirus outbreaks emerge in specific areas.
The National Trust warned that all properties and car parks in Wales remain closed in line with Welsh Government rules.
The phased reopening will begin with around 29 gardens and park properties opening from June 3, with only visitors who have booked in advance allowed entry to limit numbers and keep the public safe, the Trust said.
More sites will open over the coming weeks for properties where social distancing can be observed, and with only around a third of the normal number of visitors permitted.
All National Trust houses and shops will remain closed, along with holiday cottages and campsites, and, while coastal and countryside car parks are mostly open, some busier ones may need to be closed or pre-booked, the charity said.
Booking for parks and gardens opened on Friday morning and will be free for Trust members, while other visitors will pay an admission fee.
The charity, which said sites will be displaying information on how to stay safe and socially distanced, is also urging people to limit how many visits they book, stay local if they can, and avoid busy hot-spots.
Director-general Hilary McGrady said: “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.
“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.”
The Royal Horticultural Society is also reopening its gardens as part of the easing of lockdown, with strictly limited numbers of pre-booked tickets available each day for members and visitors at its four properties.
Safety measures will be brought in, including limiting numbers allowed in the garden centres at any one time and floor markings to help customers queue safely, separate entry and exit points where possible, hand sanitiser points, and card transactions only.
RHS director-general Sue Biggs said: “We are delighted that the Government has said it is safe to reopen our RHS gardens because it is proven that spending time outside in green open spaces surrounded by plants has an immensely positive effect on our health.
“We look forward to welcoming our members and visitors safely back from June 1st and to bringing the joy of plants, flowers, trees and nature back into people’s lives, which for so many will be a much-needed tonic.”
Biggs added that it is “imperative” that a timed slot ticket is booked in advance on the RHS website for every visitor, warning that those without tickets would be turned away.
Here are all National Trust locations that will reopen from June 3rd:
Corfe Castle, Dorset
Kingston Lacy, Dorset
Attingham Park, Shropshire
Belton House, Lincolnshire
Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
London and the South East:
Hinton Ampner, Hampshire
Polesden Lacey, Surrey
Scotney Castle, Kent
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
Standen House and Garden, West Sussex
Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
The Vyne, Hampshire
Beningbrough Hall, North Yorkshire
Gibside, Tyne & Wear
Dunham Massey, Greater Manchester
Quarry Bank, Cheshire
East of England:
Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire
Sutton Hoo, Suffolk
Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
Castle Coole, County Fermanagh
Castle Ward, County Down
Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, County Londonderry
Florence Court, County Fermanagh
Mount Stewart, County Down
Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry
Rowallane Garden, County Down
The Argory, County Armagh
How to book a National Trust visit
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Booking is also required for some car parks. For more information and to book see www.nationaltrust.org.uk
The Royal Horticultural Society has also announced the opening of its gardens from June 1 for visitors with pre-booked tickets only, with booking opening from 10am on Friday May 29 for:
Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire
Hyde Hall, Essex
For information and to book see www.rhs.org.uk/gardens
You can also purchase a National Trust membership to gain free entry into over 500 properties and gardens for 12 months. Individual adult memberships cost £6 per month, while a family membership starts from £6.50 per month.
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