Blenheim Palace has confirmed it will re-open its park and gardens to visitors as soon as it can subject to government advice.
A significant part of the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site’s parkland has remained freely accessible to local communities during lockdown to provide people with a safe area to walk and exercise.
However, the Palace, the Pleasure Gardens and the Formal Gardens were all closed in March.
While the Palace itself is expected to remain off limits for longer, much of the Pleasure Gardens and the Formal Gardens, along with additional areas of parkland, would be re-opened to visitors.
“We recognise the crucial importance of Blenheim to the wider economy of the area and we look forward to being among the first tier of places to visit to begin to re-open in a truly safe way,” said Blenheim CEO Dominic Hare.
“Throughout lockdown we have continued to make large sections of the Estate’s parkland safely accessible to local people.
“We have comprehensive plans in place to start to re-open properly when advised by the government that we can, even though this kind of limited re-opening is likely to be loss-making.
“Under normal circumstances, our visitors would be spending in the region of £4m outside of our gates each month, and well over 2,000 jobs are supported by our activities.
“That level of lost revenue is hugely significant to surrounding businesses and the sooner we can start working together to get the local economy moving again the better,” he added.
As part of any re-opening plan, Blenheim Palace would initially operate at a significantly reduced capacity, with a cap on daily visitor levels and all entry to be via pre-paid, online bookings.
Social distancing measures would be in place and trained staff on hand throughout to offer help and advice to visitors.
Additional facilities and significantly increased hygiene procedures would also be made available including individual washing and toilet areas as well as ‘contactless’ catering options.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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