After a number of UK wildlife parks, including Chester Zoo and Yorkshire Wildlife Park, launched appeals last week for the government to review their restrictions on the re-opening of zoos, zoos have now been permitted to re-open on June 15 – with strict social distancing guidelines expected.
Confirming the news just today, Boris Johnson is set to officially discuss the easing of the restrictions in today’s daily briefing as part of a bid to re-start the UK economy after three months in lockdown.
Many of the UK’s zoos have been facing severe financial implications, with Chester Zoo recently launching a fundraiser to save them from “extinction”. The campaigns have seen mass support with the public, with many questioning the government’s decision to re-open non-essential stores and national parks, but not the zoos in need of custom that boast outdoor spaces perfect for social distancing.
In addition to the announcement regarding zoos, Boris Johnson is also set to announce that outdoor events such as drive-in cinemas will now be permitted, which will utilise the use of people’s cars to promote social distancing. Drive-in events are beginning to pop up across the country already, with a weekend cinema event already planned in Leeds.
A Downing Street Official has 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.”
The moral impact of the permanent closure of zoos would have been critical, with reports stating that zoos were worried animals in their care would need to be put down should they be left without a home. Additionally, many of the UK’s zoos, such as Chester Zoo, fund major conservation projects which work to fight against the extinction of endangered animals and rely on the funding to continue their important work.
Zoos are expected to create social distancing signs throughout their parks, promoting distance between customers, as well as sanitisation points throughout and safety screens at service points.
[Credit: Yorkshire Wildlife Park]