Although group visits aren’t possible right now, we thought it would be interesting to look at some of the changes tourist attractions are making so they can safely re-open as lockdown restrictions ease. 

ZSL London Zoo prepares to reopen

Two-metre markers in place at ZSL London Zoo’s Land of the Lions exhibit. 

Many outdoor attractions, including zoos and venues with expansive gardens, have already reopened to the public by putting a number of new measures in place to adhere to government guidelines. 

  • ZSL has reopened both of its zoos - London and Whipsnade - with a whole range of measures introduced including additional handwashing facilities and sanitiser stations, two metre distance markers laid out in exhibits and one-way routes introduced to manage the flow of visitors safely. Tickets are split into morning and afternoon slots to spread visitors throughout the day and talks and demonstrations are cancelled until further notice to prevent over-crowding. While groups aren’t currently admitted, the team says it will assess how things go and review its operations for future visits.
  • Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire has also released a short video explaining guidance for visitors to its Safari Drive Through including limits on daily capacity and only allowing entry to those who have pre-booked or have an annual pass reservation. The arrival process has been “streamlined” to limit interaction with staff and there will be takeaway food available along with a click and collect service for the gift shop. 
  • Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is among the attractions with outdoor space to have adapted its offer for visitors including launching a new Formal Gardens Audio Tour that can be downloaded for free on smartphones. There are also extra temporary outdoor toilets set up and mobile catering facilities. 
  • Borde Hill Gardens in West Sussex celebrated being able to reopen just as its famous Rose Garden was reaching its best. Future visitors can expect, as with many other attractions, to see a reduction in the number of people who can enter at any one time. A one-way route around the Garden has been introduced among other measures, such as contactless payments only and additional hand-sanitisers on-site.
  • Hever Castle in Kent is among the attractions to operate a cashless system, introduce a one-way system through the grounds and restrict visitor numbers. It has opened up its gardens and CEO Duncan Leslie said he was confident that a visit would be a “great antidote to the world’s woes”. The team have also released a video with guidance along with reopening FAQs. 

Many other attractions haven’t yet been able to open due to the current restrictions although preparations are ongoing to adapt and be able to open safely. Staff at The Bear Grylls Adventure attraction at the NEC in Birmingham said it would be carrying out temperature checks on all employees and guests arriving at the venue and those with a high temperature would be refused entry. 

Merlin Entertainments has released extensive information about its new health and safety measures in line with government advice at its various attractions which include Warwick Castle, Chessington World of Adventures, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort, Madame Tussauds and Alton Towers. It has said that if it is recommended or required by local health authorities, visitors should bring a suitable face mask/covering although these will be available at the attraction if necessary. 

It has also: 

  • Introduced new arrangements to ensure social distancing within queues.
  • Reconfigured tables and chairs in dining areas so there’s enough distance between groups. 
  • Developed plans for social distancing on rides such as leaving empty seats between guests and having empty rows.
  • Put in place parking arrangements for anybody arriving by car. 

There have been some more unusual ideas too including a hotel in Cornwall which is launching what it says is the UK’s first purpose-designed and built ‘socially distanced’ hotel restaurants. St Moritz Hotel & Spa near Rock is preparing to open the nicknamed ‘Anti-Social Club’, a new dining concept which will consist of 16 private dining rooms. 

Socially distancing dining at St Moritz Hotel & Spa in Cornwall

Source: Chris Dove / Gingerhead Design

How one of the dining ‘bubbles’ may look - there will be rooms for two, four and eight people. 

Co-owner Hugh Ridgway said: “Covid-19 has stopped the industry in its tracks. Like all hotels, bars and restaurants across the globe, the virus has hit our business like an unbelievable sledgehammer. However, as ever, we have dusted ourselves off, and risen to this unpredictable challenge in our own creative, St Moritz way. 

“Simply reworking our current restaurants and bars, and operating at 30% capacity doesn’t allow that, so our specially-designed summer ‘pop-up’ restaurant, overcomes this obstacle, adding to, rather than detracting from, our stylish, VIP guest experience.”