The Coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on Scotland’s cultural venues.
Castles, galleries, museums, theatres and other venues have taken the decision to close, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The National Trust for Scotland has announced today that its senior managers and trustees have proactively decided to keep gated properties (historic buildings, visitor centres, visitor facilities, cafes, shops and toilets) closed and suspend all events across the country with effect from Friday, 20 March.
Despite the closures, the Trust is still able to offer a range of places that will remain accessible and safe for visitors.
The charity will also carry on with planned investment projects at Gladstone’s Land in Edinburgh, Newhailes near Musselburgh and the House of Dun in Angus, as well as footpath repairs and other landscape management designed to ensure public access and protect habitats.
The suspension of events also applies to commercial bookings, such as weddings and some holiday lets, volunteer Thistle Camp working holidays, subject to ongoing review.
Full refunds will be offered to anyone who bought tickets for events or made commercial bookings, although it may take some time to process these because of demand and staff being dispersed due to remote working arrangements.
The decision will be under constant review with a view to re-opening all properties as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.
The National Trust for Scotland’s chief executive, Simon Skinner said: ‘Although we have been closely following Scottish Government and NHS Scotland advice to ensure the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff, as an independent charity we felt we had to go further in order to protect our people and the public.
‘We sincerely regret the disappointment our decision will cause, particularly given the popularity of our Mother’s Day events and Cadbury Easter Egg Trails. We know that this will be a big let-down for the many people who were looking forward to celebrating the arrival of spring at our properties after a long, hard winter – however, public safety must come first.
‘In order to maintain a public service in this difficult time we will be keeping our accessible gardens, country parks and gardens open free of charge, offering a green, clean and fresh respite to enable visitors to escape isolation in a safe environment where “social distancing” is easy to maintain. This includes properties like Culzean Country Park and the landscapes and gardens surrounding Brodie and Brodick Castles and Newhailes.
‘While the public will desperately need the relief our properties can provide, we need them more than ever to play a part in protecting Scotland’s heritage now, and for the long-term: our work to protect Scotland’s national and natural treasures does not stop.
‘We recognise this is an incredibly worrying time for our members and visitors, who will be concerned about family and friends, as well as having other very real considerations in the days and weeks ahead but we ask that if people are able to so, they help our charity in any way they can in this testing time.
‘We are very grateful for any support that enables us to keep on preserving our buildings, protecting our wildlife, cleaning our coastlines and looking after our landscapes, even in these difficult circumstances.’
A National Museums Scotland spokesman said: ‘In response to the impact of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) we made the decision to close all our museums to the public from Tuesday 17 March at 5pm until further notice. This will include the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle.
‘All scheduled exhibitions and events will be postponed until further notice, including the display of the Declaration of Arbroath. We will make a further announcement once new display dates have been agreed. The national collections within our care will continue to be monitored and made secure during this time.’
And a Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture statement added: ‘In light of the recent developments regarding Coronavirus (Covid-19), the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture closed to the public from 5pm on Tuesday 17 March until Thursday 30 April at the earliest. Over this time we will be working to host exhibitions online and will continue to showcase wonderful works by Scottish artists from our collection and from across our networks of artist programmes, via our websites and social media platforms.
‘The Academy thanks you for your support and encouragement and trusts that we will see you at our exhibitions again soon. We hope that you stay safe and enjoy our exhibitions, collections and artists’ programmes online whilst we are closed.’