Heritage sites, including medieval castles and landmarks, across Scotland will now be reopening, as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced that they adopting a phased approach to reopen 70% of its free to access and ticketed properties by mid-September. This begins on Wednesday 15 July, when over 200 unstaffed and key-keeper sites across Scotland will be reopened – where physical distancing can be readily maintained and they can provide free and safe access.
There will also be free access to the grounds of Doune Castle, Caerlaverock Castle and Dundonald Castle. These properties, which would normally be staffed, have external green spaces which can be opened in line with continuing health restrictions. 26 ticketed sites across Scotland will then reopen on a rolling basis with Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle reopening open on Saturday 1 August.
From August through to mid-September HES plan to re-open a further 23 key sites across Scotland on a rolling programme including Glasgow Cathedral, Fort George, St Andrews Castle and Cathedral and Skara Brae. Visitors, including members, will be required to pre-book tickets online and to use contactless payment where possible; one-way systems will be implemented in some locations; and some areas of sites, such as enclosed spaces, will be closed off to visitors. Visitor numbers will also be limited for safety reasons.
“At the forefront of our planning is the safety of our staff and visitors, whilst being able to reopen for the tourist season by gradually enabling safe access to our properties and facilities in line with Scottish Government guidance,” explains Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES. “We’ve been working exceptionally hard to ensure our properties will be accessible and ready to welcome visitors however, it’s important that we implement our resumption plans at the right time given the different requirements for each site.
“This also includes looking at the varying local and regional requirements throughout the country and we have considered this when setting out our phased approach to welcoming visitors back and supporting Scotland’s tourism and economic recovery.”
Over forty seasonal sites will remain closed for the 2020 season, as HES concentrates on offering access to properties which are open year-round. To learn more about the reopening plans, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website.
Top Image: Caerlaverock Castle – photo by Paul Stevenson / Wikimedia Commons