The National Trust begins a phased reopening of some of its gardens and parklands in England and Northern Ireland this week, using advance bookings to limit visitor numbers.
From Wednesday, 3 June, the Trust will begin reopening a small number of gardens and parklands with more to follow over the coming weeks. All admission will be by pre-booked ticket only and people can now book their tickets in advance on property web pages. They are free for Trust members, and other visitors will pay an admission fee.
All the Trust’s houses, shops, holiday cottages and campsites remain closed in line with government guidelines.
The charity will only reopen where social distancing can be observed, and these locations will open to around a third of their normal capacity at any one time. Visitors arriving at reopening properties by car will be asked to show pre-booked tickets through their vehicle window before parking. Those arriving on foot will have bookings checked by staff who will adhere to social distancing.
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.”
English Heritage is also planning to reopen some of its outdoor spaces and historic sites. On 13 June it will start the first phase, with further sites reopening in early July. It hopes to have all sites open again by August.
Visitor numbers will also be limited and people will again need to book in advance and arrive during a time slot.
The first sites to reopen will be announced around 8 June, and it will let members know by email ahead of this.
Opening attractions and allowing face-to-face contact is essential for charities restarting, research by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has highlighted.
Its survey of 539 charities was taken after the slight easing in lockdown measures in England was announced but most charities (75%) said the initial measures would have little or no impact on their ability to cope with the effects of the pandemic.
When asked to identify the steps that would make the biggest difference to their ability to reopen many of their services, almost one in three (28%) singled out a return to face-to-face contact with clients. Others pointed to reopening of community centres (18%) and visitor attractions such as museums and gardens (13%). The reopening of charity shops and cafes were also listed as important.
Previous research showed that some charities have made significant changes in response to the crisis with 4 in 10 (39%) saying they had found an alternative or innovative way to deliver a service (such as turning a soup kitchen into a meal delivery service for vulnerable people). A quarter (25%) reported that they had found a new way to reach their beneficiaries, largely by relying on technology to keep in touch.
Susan Pinkney, Head of Research at CAF, said:
“We know the effect of this crisis meant that just when so many charities were facing incredible demand for services, their ability to deliver was also curtailed.
“So many charities have impressed with their ability to move quickly to find another way of delivering services or teaming up with other charities and partners to help their communities.
“This survey tells us that charities, like so many others, are looking towards the future and trying to assess how they can rebuild their capacity safely.”
Main image: Corfe Castle in Dorset is one of the properties reopening.
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