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National Trust closes parks and gardens over social distancing concerns

By Jamie Brassington | Environment | Published:

The National Trust closed down its parks and gardens today to prevent further spreading of coronavirus - affecting sites in Staffordshire and Shropshire.

Shugborough Hall

Among sites shut from today includes Shugborough Hall, in Stafford, Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury, and Powis Castle, in Welshpool near the Shropshire border.

The move follows the closure of all pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and leisure centres announced by the government on Friday.

People are being told not to visit Attingham Park in Shrewsbury

Now the National Trust has stepped in to close its gated gardens and parks.

There were concerns about people looking to escape to the countryside for walks amid the outbreak.

This included images showing hundreds of people parked up visiting Snowdon on Saturday.

Hundreds of people visiting Snowdon yesterday despite warnings about social distancing. Image: Dave Throup

A spokesman for Shugborough Hall said on Facebook: "We’ve sadly taken the decision to close our site, including car park, parks and gardens, in addition to our mansion, shops and cafés, to help restrict the spread of coronavirus.

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"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."

The National Trust has already closed its houses, shops and cafes. Earlier this week, it announced it would keep open its gardens and parks so people could still enjoy the open space.

But charity bosses have decided to u-turn on this fearing that the forecasted fair weather and Mothering Sunday could attract crowds.

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Powis Castle in Welshpool

Hilary McGrady, the director general of the trust, 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."

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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