The director general of the National Trust has appealed to people not to travel to visit its open spaces over Easter as part of the effort to contain coronavirus, on what would normally be one of its busiest weekends of the year.
Though the conservation charity has closed all of its properties and car parks across a vast portfolio that includes more than 500 historic houses, ancient monuments, gardens and parks, it also cares for large areas of open land, including some of the country’s most famous beaches, forests and stretches of coastline.
In a video message shared with its 5.6 million members, Hilary McGrady said protecting the NHS and each other had to come first. She said:
We know how sad our members and visitors are that they can’t travel to their favourite places to mark Easter and celebrate the arrival of spring this year, but our biggest priority has to be staying at home to help our NHS and keep ourselves and one another safe.
As both the largest private landowner in the UK and its most popular membership organisation - with more paying supporters than the entire population of Finland - the Trust hopes its appeal will help to minimise day trips to help slow the spread of the disease, which the government and police forces across the country have also been desperate to discourage.
Among the many popular open spaces cared for by the Trust are the Cerne Abbas giant in Dorset, Rhossili beach in south Wales, the Giant’s Causeway and Portstewart strand in county Antrim and parts of the Lake District and Snowdonia.