Historic buildings run by the National Trust for Scotland are to close and events including weddings and Easter egg hunts will be postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The organisation said “gated properties” – historic buildings, visitor centres, visitor facilities, cafes, shops and toilets – will be closed and events suspended across the country from Friday.
The suspension of events also applies to commercial bookings, such as weddings and some holiday lets and volunteer Thistle Camp working holidays, subject to ongoing review.
Due to the Coronavirus emergency, we've taken the difficult decision to keep gated properties closed and cancel events from 20 March to protect our visitors, supporters, volunteers and staff. Weâre sorry for the disappointment caused (1/2)— National Trust for Scotland (@N_T_S) March 18, 2020
The charity said it will carry on with planned investment projects at Gladstone’s Land in Edinburgh, Newhailes near Musselburgh in East Lothian and the House of Dun in Angus, as well as footpath repairs and other landscape management designed to ensure public access and protect habitats.
Simon Skinner, National Trust for Scotland (NTS) chief executive, 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 letdown 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.
“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.”
The charity said it will be keeping its 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”.
Dundee Heritage Trust have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close Discovery Point and Verdant Works. The safety of the public, volunteers, our front of house and catering staff is priority. Check for updates online. https://t.co/9vuzGdQzEu pic.twitter.com/9aJzqYfPAO— Discovery Point (@DiscoveryDundee) March 18, 2020
NTS said 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.
In Dundee, Discovery Point and Verdant Works will close temporarily with immediate effect from Wednesday while public events for April have been postponed.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority said its offices are closed to the public until further notice, with most staff members now working from home.
In politics, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have become the last party at Holyrood to announce the postponement of their spring conference.
Leader Willie Rennie said the decision to postpone the event, due to be held at Peebles Hydro between May 22 and 24, was to protect “the health of our party members and the exhibitors and staff at the conference venue”.