Latest statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Press release
Breaking news
Published : 05 Mar 2020 Last update : 23 Mar 2020

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

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.