London Zoo bosses ‘delighted’ by government plans to relax lockdown rules and let them reopen from June 15
PUBLISHED: 13:11 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:12 10 June 2020
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London Zoo bosses are “delighted” at news they could be allowed to open as soon as Monday June 15 after the government relaxed its lockdown policy for open-air attractions.
A day after the charity which runs both the Regent’s Park-based zoo and Whipsnade Zoo in Hertfordshire said it could face permanent closure if it wasn’t able to welcome visitors soon, the prime minister was on Wednesday set to give zoos the go-ahead – if they can uphold social distancing rules.
Boris Johnson is to announce the easing of restrictions on outdoor attractions where people remain in their cars, such as safari parks and drive-in cinemas, too.
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Zoological Society of London (ZSL) director general Dominic Jermey, said: “We are delighted at the news that the Government may allow ZSL London and Whipsnade zoos to reopen as early as next week. “Thousands of members of the public have written to their MPs to express their faith in the zoos’ safety measures and their concern for ZSL’s continued survival – we are grateful for everyone’s support – we can’t wait to welcome visitors through our gates as soon as we are able. “ Though the easing will be a relief, zoos will be told that they must not reopen indoor exhibitions, such as reptile houses, and must ensure amenities including cafes are takeaway only.
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A Downing Street official said: “People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so.”
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Mr Jermey added that extensive measures had been taken to ensure social distancing, and he hoped to have tickets available for booking online on Friday.
But he went on to say that re-opening “cannot be the end of the story” and would be no quick fix.
“We will still urgently need support to keep our two zoos running smoothly, our scientists investigating wildlife diseases such as Covid-19, and our conservationists working in the field to protect Critically Endangered species,” he said.
Earlier this week, ZSL said a continued forced closure would be “illogical”.
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