Government to announce Chester Zoo and Knowsley Safari can open from June 15

Government to announce Chester Zoo and Knowsley Safari can open next week

Zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen in England from June 15, Boris Johnson will announce in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

The Prime Minister will update the nation on the easing of the restrictions on Wednesday as he tries to reopen the economy while minimising Covid-19's rate of transmission.

  • Watch: Chester Zoo boss Jamie Christon says all staff there are ecstatic.

It comes after Chester Zoo announced last Wednesday that it would remain closed 'indefinitely' following Government advice.

Credit: Chester Zoo

Knowsley Safari, which has been closed since 23 March, said people would be safe to visit as it was similar to using a McDonald's drive-thru.

A spokeswoman said being told to remain closed while the restaurants were allowed to reopen "doesn't make sense".

  • Watch: Knowsley Safari boss says reopening is a huge relief.

Under pressure from zoos warning they face an exponential threat, Mr Johnson will say at the Downing Street press conference they can reopen next week as long as they can uphold social distancing rules.

He will also announce the easing of restrictions on outdoor attractions where people remain in their cars, such as safari parks and drive-in cinemas, because the risk of spreading the disease is lower outside.

The move will pave the way for zoos to reopen in England alongside non-essential shops, despite schools remaining shuttered to many pupils.A Downing Street official 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.

Downing Street

The announcement will come after Chester Zoo and other institutions across the nation warned they may face permanent closure if they were not allowed to reopen.

The PM's father, Stanley Johnson, had joined calls for zoos to "reopen as soon as possible" after they were ordered to close when the lockdown was imposed on March 23.

Though the easing will be a relief, zoos will be told that they must not reopen indoor exhibitions, such as reptile houses, and must ensure amenities including cafes are take-away only.

Watch: Ashley Derricott's report.