Latest statement on reopening and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Press release
Breaking news
Published : 05 Mar 2020 Last update : 29 May 2020

The National Trust's latest statement on reopening and coronavirus (COVID-19).

UPDATED - 6.30pm on Friday 29 May 2020

A National Trust spokesperson said: "We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather. With 5.8million members and about 70,000 tickets available in this first week, some of the initial 29 gardens and parklands have reached capacity very quickly, but more will be available next Friday for the following week, and we will also be reopening more of our places.
 
“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.
 
“On Thursday, a day before our booking system opened, we emailed the two million members for whom we had email addresses to make them aware the booking system was opening, and we’re delighted that well over 90% of our tickets have been booked by our members. Unfortunately, charity tax law does not allow us to give exclusive access to members. We’re sorry if some have been unable to book in this first phase, but more slots will be available every Friday, and over the coming weeks more places will gradually start to reopen.
 
 “We are so thankful that our members and supporters have stood by us as we work through these unprecedented times, and we ask for their continued support as we make this gradual transition a success so we can get back to offering nature, beauty and history for everyone.”

UPDATED - 12.01am on Friday 29 May 2020

The National Trust has announced that from June 3 it will begin a phased reopening of some of its gardens and parklands in England and Northern Ireland with advance bookings needed to limit visitor numbers and maintain public safety.

The announcement comes after the UK government updated its advice on ticketed garden venues on May 23, confirming that people in England can now visit gardens and land maintained for public use. And in Northern Ireland, the Executive permitted the reopening of outdoor spaces as part of step one in its Pathway to Recovery Plan.

From Wednesday, June 3, the Trust will begin a phased and gradual reopening of a small number of its gardens and parklands in England and Northern Ireland. Over the coming weeks more places will begin reopening. People will be able to book their tickets in advance on property web pages from today (May 29). They will be 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.All car parks and properties in Wales remain closed in line with Welsh Government guidance.

The charity will begin to reopen gardens and open spaces in England and Northern Ireland where social distancing can be observed, and 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 a small team of staff who will adhere to social distancing.

Most of the Trust’s countryside and coastal car parks are now open, but car parks with a risk of high demand may need to be closed, and some may need to be booked in advance.

Visitors are asked to check property web pages before travelling to see what is open and what needs to be booked. All admission to gardens and parklands will be by pre-booked ticket only.
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 booking system will be available on individual property web pages.

The charity is also urging visitors to limit how many visits they book, to stay local if they can and to avoid busy hot-spots.

Signs at properties and information ahead of visits will advise visitors how to stay safe during their visit and routes will be marked out.

Hilary McGrady said: “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.”

The latest information and updates on which places and facilities are opened can be found on individual property web pages, and all visitors are urged to check online before planning a visit. The ticket booking system is also available from today (May 29).

UPDATED - 5pm on Friday 22 May 2020

The National Trust is urging people across England to stay close to home and explore local green spaces and countryside this weekend, as part of the collective effort to make easing of the lockdown work.

Following the Government’s relaxation of measures to combat coronavirus allowing people to travel for exercise, visitors have been keen to get to coast and countryside hotspots over the past few days to enjoy the unseasonably good weather.

As the charity’s coastal and countryside car parks begin to reopen, typical tourist hotspots are already under pressure due to visitor numbers. The Trust wants people to be aware and consider staying local to enjoy the bank holiday.

Andy Beer, Regional Director for the National Trust in the Midlands says: “We fully understand that after eight weeks of lockdown everyone just wants to get outside to enjoy the good weather, fresh air and the sea or countryside.

“But when lots of us do this, we have a major effect on others, the local communities we are visiting and the emergency services.

If the easing of lockdown is going to work then we need to change our habits a bit. 

“We’re urging people to think local and to go on a new adventure by exploring the green spaces and countryside which are close to them this weekend.”

For more information and to keep up-to-date on the latest re-opening news, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk

UPDATED - 11am on Friday 22 May 2020

From Wednesday 27 May, some National Trust car parks in Northern Ireland will begin reopening in line with advice from the Northern Ireland Executive about the opening of outdoor spaces. This follows the gradual reopening of many of the Trust’s car parks in England over the past two weeks.

The process of opening car parks will be gradual, and decisions on what will open will be made by local judgement to avoid hotspots for the safety of visitors and local communities. Car parking facilities and charges may differ from place to place, and some car parks will need to be booked in advance so please check property webpages before visiting.

All houses, gardens and parkland remain closed, however the Trust is now finalising its plans for reopening and will publish these as soon as possible.

We are very grateful to our members and supporters for helping us work through these plans, and for their continued loyal support.

UPDATED - 8am on Friday 15 May 2020

From Thursday 21 May we will open some of our larger car parks in England to visitors who have pre-booked spaces. On Monday (18 May) a booking system will open on the Trust’s website. Details about which car parks are bookable will appear on property webpages, and we are urging visitors to check online for the latest details and booking instructions before travelling. Members will be able to book a space for free, while non-members will need to pay in advance for their space.
 
The opening of larger car parks in England comes days after we started opening some of our smaller car parks in line with government advice, so people can access fresh air, open space and nature. All car parks in Wales and Northern Ireland remain closed after the First Minister in Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive reiterated the 'stay at home' message.
 
For the moment our pay-for-entry places, including houses and gardens, remain closed. Any reopening will be phased and gradual. In order to maintain social distancing when they reopen, we plan to introduce a pre-booking system. The latest government guidance restricting the public’s use of outdoor ticketed venues means they remain closed for now.

UPDATED - 6.30pm on Tuesday 12 May 2020

For several weeks we have been working on plans to reopen our places. We are really looking forward to welcoming visitors back.

We’re closely following Government guidance at all times and are now considering the detailed plan published yesterday afternoon to further inform our own plans. The safety of our staff, volunteers, visitors and local communities remains our priority.

From tomorrow (13 May) we will start opening some car parks in England, in line with Government advice, so people can access fresh air, open space and nature. Car parks which are staffed and have facilities, will take longer. However, all car parks in Wales and Northern Ireland will remain closed after the First Minister in Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive reiterated the 'stay at home' message.'

All opening decisions will be guided by local judgement. It’s important that we avoid hotspots developing for the safety of visitors and local communities, and we may not open places where this is too great a risk.

For the moment our pay-for entry places including houses and gardens, remain closed. Any reopening will need to be phased and gradual. In order to maintain social distancing when they reopen we plan to introduce a pre-booking system.  The latest Government guidance about outdoor ticketed venues means they remain closed for now.

We are very grateful to our members and supporters for helping us work through these plans, and for their continued loyal support. 

UPDATED - 2.45pm on Monday 23 March 2020

National Trust car parks will be closed by the end of Tuesday (March 24) in a further attempt to help restrict the spread of coronavirus and to encourage the public to stay local and observe social distancing.

The move comes as the Trust ramps up its efforts to help the nation fight the spread of the virus, which has already seen it temporarily close its houses, shops, cafes, parks and gardens. 

Director General Hilary McGrady said:

“Following the scenes we saw at the weekend, where visitors travelled to coast and countryside, it is really important that we do all we can to discourage travel, and ask people instead to stay local and observe social distancing as guided by the government. It is so important that people stay at home. We must all work together and not see a repeat of those weekend scenes.

“There is so much the public can do at home, and over the coming weeks our website, social media feeds, podcasts and video will become even more important, ensuring the places of nature, beauty and history that we care for on behalf of the nation can remain open for business virtually while we are temporarily closed.

“We will also be ramping up our efforts to help people connect with nature wherever they are and to find moments of joy in the world around them. We will be providing rich content and staying in touch with our members and followers throughout this time.”

UPDATED - 1.00pm on Sunday 22 March 2020

From Sunday 22 March, we've sadly taken the decision to close our parks and gardens, in addition to our houses, shops and cafés, to help restrict the spread of coronavirus.

Many of our car parks for countryside and coastal locations will also have to close due to high demand. We urge people to stay local and observe social distancing. Please do not travel.

Information on which National Trust outdoor places are open can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk 

UPDATED - 9.30pm on Saturday 21 March 2020

From midnight on 21 March the National Trust will close all of its gated gardens and parks to help restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

The move follows the closure of pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and leisure centres announced by the government on Friday, and tightening travel restrictions and public health advice.

At the start of this week the conservation charity announced that despite closing its houses, shops and cafes, it would work to keep gardens and parks open so people could access open space. However, the Trust warned that a fair weather forecast and Mothering Sunday could tempt people onto the roads over the weekend and National Trust sites would close if high demand meant social distancing could not be enforced. 

Director-General Hilary McGrady said:

'Despite our desire to keep our outdoor spaces open, the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors has to be our top priority. Having observed the numbers visiting our properties today and I am no longer convinced we can maintain social distancing over Mother’s Day when numbers are likely to grow, and beyond.

'We have now sadly taken the decision to close all of our parks and gardens, in addition to our houses, shops and cafes, to avoid crowding that puts social distancing at risk.

'We know that people are likely to need space and fresh air in the coming weeks and months and we will do all we can to provide access wherever possible.

'Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing measures.

'Over the coming weeks our digital platforms - our website, social media feeds, podcasts and video - will become even more important, ensuring the places of nature, beauty and history that we care for on behalf of the nation can remain open for business virtually while we are temporarily closed.

'We will also be ramping up our efforts to help people connect with nature wherever they are and to find moments of joy in the world around them. We will be providing rich content and staying in touch with our members and followers throughout this time.'

Information on which National Trust outdoor places are open can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk 

UPDATED  - 4.15pm on Thursday 19 March 2020

National Trust urges caution as good weather at the weekend could tempt people onto roads

With Mother’s Day and good weather forecast for the weekend, the National Trust is urging people to avoid unnecessary travel and follow government guidelines on social gatherings.

The Trust’s coast and countryside places will be open as usual with any car park charges suspended and the charity is working where it can to keep outdoor spaces open and free to access.

However Mother’s Day and a weekend likely to be mostly dry and sunny could see some sites, especially smaller parks and gardens having to close.  Earlier this week the conservation charity announced that it would close its houses, shops and cafes to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

Nature expert and writer Andy Beer from the National Trust says: “Although our coast and countryside will be open as usual, we’d encourage people to stay local and enjoy the first moments of spring where they are rather than making an unnecessary journey.

“There are so many small moments of nature that we can enjoy now that spring has arrived, from the first blossom to flower, birdsong and the first leaves unfurling on our trees. 

“We’ve had so much support for our move to keep our outdoor places open which has been really terrific to see.  However, we have a responsibility to adhere to government advice and although many can continue to enjoy many of our outdoor places we recognise this weekend is likely to be a challenge. 

“To ensure we are encouraging people to stay aware of social distancing, many of our smaller parks and gardens could be closed this weekend. The wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors remains our top priority.”

Information on which National Trust outdoor places are open this weekend can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk 

UPDATED - 9.30am on Wednesday 18 March 2020

Following yesterday’s announcement, The National Trust is continuing to work hard to keep open spaces accessible to people while it closes houses, shops and cafes to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

This will take time and we hope by this Friday (March 20) all properties will have a plan in place as to what will be available to the public. Many factors have to be considered when continuing to open, including whether the garden or park allows enough space for adequate social distancing.

We will try to keep as many open spaces available as possible but this is a changing situation and we are strictly following Government advice so please keep checking our website for updated information and always check the site before you visit any of our places.

The wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors remains our top concern.

UPDATED - 7.50am on Tuesday 17 March 2020

The National Trust 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 yesterday, Director General Hilary McGrady announced that the National Trust’s pay-for-entry sites including houses, cafes and shops, would 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."

UPDATED - 12.30pm on Friday 13 March 2020

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.

UPDATED - 2.55pm on Thursday 5 March, 2020

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We are planning ahead, staying vigilant and following Government advice.

“We are making contingency plans and working closely with other partner organisations to ensure we can respond to a range of scenarios in order to maintain normal business for as long as possible.

“We have also been asking all our staff and volunteers to follow advice on regular handwashing.

“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.