The National Trust has announced that it will, where possible, open as many of its gardens and parks for free, but close its houses, cafes and shops to help the nation fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Following the Prime Minister’s briefing earlier this week, Director General Hilary McGrady announced that the National Trust’s pay-for-entry sites including houses, cafes and shops, would all close by this Friday (March 20).
McGrady said the charity would work hard to keep as many of the Trust’s gardens and parklands open, free of charge, alongside coast and countryside, to encourage the nation to enjoy open space, if appropriate, during the pandemic, while adhering to the government’s social distancing guidance.
Hilary McGrady said: ‘The National Trust was founded 125 years ago for the benefit of the entire nation. We want to honour our mission – to enable people and nature to thrive. Over the coming weeks we will do all that we can to keep on providing public benefit through caring for places and giving people access wherever possible.
‘While we will close our indoor areas to help fight the spread of coronavirus, we recognise that people are likely to need access to open space and to nature, beauty and history.’
A National Trust spokesperson said: ‘Following the Government announcement that Britain has now moved into the delay phase we want to reassure our staff, volunteers and visitors that their health and wellbeing is our top priority.
‘We are planning ahead, staying vigilant and continue to follow government advice.
‘We are making contingency plans and working closely with partner organisations to ensure we can respond to a range of scenarios as they unfold. We have asked all our staff and volunteers to follow guidance on regular handwashing and follow government advice to stay at home for seven days if they have a high temperature or a new continuous cough.
‘Staff and volunteers have access to occupational health services if they have any concerns and are kept up-to-date with the latest advice and information.’
Latest government information on coronavirus can be found on the Department for Health and Social Care’s website.