THE National Trust has closed all of its gated gardens and parks, and is asking people to avoid travel and comply with government social distancing guidance.

The changed came in at midnight last night (Saturday), and is aimed at helping restrict the spread of the coronavirus, and follows the closure of pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and leisure centres announced by the government on Friday, and tightening travel restrictions and public health advice.

At the start of this week the conservation charity announced that despite closing its houses, shops and cafes, it would work to keep gardens and parks open so people could access open space.

However, the Trust warned that a fair weather forecast and Mothering Sunday could tempt people onto the roads over the weekend and National Trust sites would close if high demand meant social distancing could not be enforced. 

The Tatton Park website said: "Despite our hopes to keep our outdoor spaces open, the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers, and visitors is our priority.

"Due to current circumstances, government guidance and the recent National Trust decision to close their parks and gardens, Tatton Park is no longer able to guarantee a service for visitors or maintain safe social distancing. We are now closed to help restrict the spread of the coronavirus. 

"The latest government information on coronavirus can be found on the Department for Health and Social Care’s website. 

"Should there be any changes to our opening arrangements or activities in the future these will be communicated as soon as possible, so please keep checking our website and social media channels for updates.

"Stay safe and we hope to welcome you to Tatton Park in the near future."

A Cheshire East Council spokesman said: "Cheshire East Council has taken the decision to close Tatton Park today, Sunday, March 22, to protect visitors and staff from the risk of Covid-19/coronavirus.

"The park could not guarantee maintaining a safe service for staff and visitors with the anticipated visitor numbers expected, alongside the need for everyone to follow social distancing safety guidelines. The closure will be reviewed regularly."

National Trust Director-General Hilary McGrady said: "Despite our desire to keep our outdoor spaces open, the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors has to be our top priority.

"Having observed the numbers visiting our properties today and I am no longer convinced we can maintain social distancing over Mother’s Day when numbers are likely to grow, and beyond.

'We have now sadly taken the decision to close all of our parks and gardens, in addition to our houses, shops and cafes, to avoid crowding that puts social distancing at risk.

'We know that people are likely to need space and fresh air in the coming weeks and months and we will do all we can to provide access wherever possible.

'Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing measures.

'Over the coming weeks our digital platforms - our website, social media feeds, podcasts and video - will become even more important, ensuring the places of nature, beauty and history that we care for on behalf of the nation can remain open for business virtually while we are temporarily closed.

'We will also be ramping up our efforts to help people connect with nature wherever they are and to find moments of joy in the world around them. We will be providing rich content and staying in touch with our members and followers throughout this time.'

Information on which National Trust outdoor places are open can be found at 

The cost of parking at Tatton Park was to be cut by 50 per cent from next Monday, March 23, to help people looking to enjoy the outdoors.

In addition entry to the gardens was to be free of charge, with both changes running until at least the start of May.

Tatton Park is managed, financed and maintained by Cheshire East Council.