The National Trust is planning to reopen a selection of gardens next week in England as lockdown measures start to ease
As the news of groups of up to six people being able to meet outside was announced on Thursday – there will be many people eager to visit beauty spots with family and friends from today.
Previously, public gardens and parklands were shut, as safe social distancing was unable to be met with thousands of people flocking to beauty spots for exercise. However, as the measures relax, The National Trust is opening some of its locations to people who book in advance.
The current daily exercise guidelines say that you can travel further afield and take day trips. However, The National Trust and The Royal Horticultural Society are urging people to ‘stay local.’ This comes after Matt Hancock said that outbreaks in communities could see local lockdowns put in place.
The plan for reopening National Trust sites includes an initial 29 gardens and parks from 3rd June. Plus, only visitors who have booked in advance will be able to gain admission. The Trust has said this is to limit numbers and keep the public safe.
Although the gardens and parks may be open, the gift shops and houses will remain closed at this time. The charity has also said they will be displaying information around each site to remind people to socially distance and maintain safety at all times.
Hilary McGrady, the Trust’s Director-General, said:
“We want to provide safe, local, welcoming spaces for people, and, wherever possible.” She also added, “things will be very different, particularly at first.”
What about public toilets and amenities in beauty spots?
One of the biggest questions that remain when gardens and parks open is whether there will be access to public toilets and amenities. The lack of facilities in these places could mean that people who are visiting cannot use the toilet, especially if they are there for several hours.
Over the bank holiday, one resident near the popular spot of Brean Down in Somerset told Somerset Live that people were urinating and defecating in public as the toilets were not open.
At the time, a spokesperson for the National Trust said it was working to open toilets but had to get the balance right and ensure safety.
The managing director of the British Toilet Association, Raymond Martin, told the BBC that there would need to be a rethink of public toilets post-Covid.
It is challenging to enforce social distancing in this limited space, and hygiene practises for each location would need to be evaluated. Mr Martin has urged the government to put ‘serious thought’ into the funding and regulation of changes to public toilets. The government has said that public toilets should be open where possible as it is a human need. The department of Housing, Communities and Local Government issues a statement which said: “We’ve published guidance to help them ensure facilities are safe where they are open, including increasing cleaning of touchpoints