Iconic Somerset attraction Cheddar Caves to close with up to 40 jobs lost

The caves at Cheddar Gorge are around 400ft deep. Credit: PA

An iconic Somerset tourist attraction has closed its doors “for the foreseeable future” after announcing redundancies.

Up to 40 members of staff at Cheddar Gorge and Caves have entered a formal redundancy consultation process.

Owners Longleat Enterprises said there was “great uncertainty” surrounding the site, which is unlikely to reopen in 2021.

In a statement, the company said the coronavirus pandemic had had a “profound impact” on the attraction.

People pictured visiting the Gorge in the 1950s. Credit: PA

"Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cheddar Caves and its attractions will be closed for the foreseeable future," a Longleat Enterprises spokesperson said.

"The effect of the pandemic on our operations has been profound. Sadly, we do not envisage the attraction being viable for the remainder of 2020 and there is great uncertainty as to the trajectory of the virus in 2021 and the associated guidance and rules."

At almost 400 feet deep and three miles long, the gorge is England's largest and is generally open to the public.

However, some attractions within the reserve, including cave tours and rock climbing, were shut earlier this year as a response to Covid-19.

Bosses had planned to reopen some of its activities in July, but a last-minute announcement suggested they were unable to due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

It is the latest of a string of companies suffering job losses as a result of declining business during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, analysis by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) found it was likely the UK will be hit by around 450,000 redundancies in the coming months.

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