CHESHIRE MPs and councillors are welcoming news that Chester Zoo can reopen next Monday (June 15).
The news comes as the zoo prepares to celebrate its 89th birthday.
Boris Johnson has announced that zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen in England from next Monday, in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown.
The Prime Minister updated the nation on the easing of the restrictions at today’s Downing Street briefing, as he sets about plans to reopen the economy while minimising Covid-19’s rate of transmission.
The news has been welcomed by residents, Cheshire MPs and local councillors, who have campaigned for Chester Zoo to reopen safely, including hosting a Zoom call with Zoos Minister Zach Goldsmith, where they highlighted the incredible conservation work and dedication of the team there.
Warrington South MP Andy Carter said it was great news, not only for the staff and animals, but also the many visitors who love the popular tourist attraction.
He said: “This is really welcome news, it’s great for visitors, employees and most importantly the animals at Chester Zoo.
“Working with Cheshire Conservative MPs and councillors we’ve been able to raise the issue with the PM, he’s listened and taken the right decision.
“I know Chester Zoo has been preparing to re-open for the last few weeks, I very much hope not that people from across Cheshire will now support them and enjoy a great day out.”
Echoing Mr Carter’s sentiment, Dr Kieran Mullan, the MP for Crewe and Nantwich said:“We pushed for the zoo to get support, no ifs ands or buts. And that is what has been delivered. So many residents wanted me to get behind the zoo and I want to thank all of them for their efforts in raising the issue with me. The zoo worked really hard to show government they could openly safely and should be very proud of their passion and care for their animals.”
Eddisbury MP, Edward Timpson, said he was also delighted with the news.
He said: “It’s fantastic that the Government has heard our concerns and decided to permit the zoo to reopen from Monday.
“I would like to thank all concerned constituents for raising this matter and donating to the zoo’s cause and Defra for listening to myself and my colleagues.”
Saughall and Mollington Conservative Councillor, Simon Eardley and his Upton colleague Jill Houlbrook, also helped campaign to get the zoo reopened.
Welcoming the news, he said: “I am absolutely delighted with the news that the whole of Chester, Cheshire and beyond has been waiting for – the campaign to get Chester Zoo reopened has paid off.
“Everyone locally knows how important the zoo is on so many levels but its reach goes way beyond being just the jewel in the crown of the north west. Their work is so vitally important for conservation in many parts of the world. Quiet, persistent and positive lobbying of the Government has paid off. Congratulations to Chester Zoo and their team!”
Jill added that she would like to thank everyone in her ward who helped support the zoo.
She said: “Along with the residents of Upton I’m thrilled to bits that the Government has listened to us and made this decision to allow Chester Zoo to re-open. June 10th is the zoo’s 89th birthday so what could be a better present? I’d like take this opportunity to thank our community for coming together to support our very special neighbours and I look forward to another visit very soon. “
Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Louise Gittins, said: “I’m delighted with the announcement that Government has reversed its decision, and allowed Chester Zoo to re-open safely.
“It is right that this new legislation, which did not take in to account Chester Zoo’s carefully thought out measures to keep people safe, is now to be reassessed. This is testament to the global response from the Zoo’s supporters locally and across the world, who know what a precious asset Chester Zoo is, and the contribution it makes to fighting extinction. Last night’s decision really shows what an impact we as a community can have when our voices are heard.
“Officers from our Environmental Health team visited the zoo and carefully scrutinised its plans for re-opening. We will now work with the Zoo to continue to support the safety of its visitors, and help them to have a great day out. A visit to the Zoo is a wonderful reward for the commitment that people have shown in respecting public health advice so far.”
The Prime Minister announced at the Downing Street press conference today that zoos 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.
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.
“This is by necessity a careful process, but we hope the reopening of safari parks and zoos will help provide families with more options to spend time outdoors while supporting the industry caring for these incredible animals.”
An oficial statement on the Zoo facebook page said:
” A week ago we were in despair, not knowing when we would reopen, or if we could even survive much longer…
BUT YOUR VOICES HAVE BEEN HEARD! 📣
“We have JUST received the news that we’ll be able to open safely from 15 June.
“Your support has been incredible. Every kind donation, every word of support. It really is making a HUGE difference.
“The fight isn’t over for us just yet. But, for now, we want to celebrate this huge moment of relief with you.
“There’s no denying that we have suffered severe financial damage over the past three months and the road to recovery will be long and uncertain. But, your incredibly kind donations, animal adoptions and memberships are giving us a vital lifeline.
“Over the next few days we’ll be letting you know when and how you’ll be able to book a ticket to visit. Please bear with us while we do this.
“From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. You are SAVING OUR ZOO.”