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Boris Johnson says safari parks and zoos to reopen in latest lockdown easing move

Zoos in England will be allowed to reopen from 15 June

2 min read

Safari parks and zoos in England will be allowed to reopen next week under new plans to ease lockdown restrictions, Boris Johnson is set to announce.

Drive-in cinemas will also be given the green light to resume business as part of wider plans to reopen non-essential retail from 15 June, Downing Street has revealed.

But opposition MPs accused the Prime Minister of taking a "scatter-gun" approach to easing lockdown.

Mr Johnson is expected to announce the changes when he provides an update on the lockdown in England on Wednesday, saying outdoor attractions will be open to the public due to the low risk of transmission.

But Number 10 said social distancing measures would remain in place, meaning indoor exhibits would be forced to remain shut while cafes at the attractions would be only allowed to provide takeaway services.

Announcing the plans, 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."

The announcement comes after a group of zoos, aquariums and conservation charities had urged ministers to consider allowing the attractions to open after they had introduced "extensive safety measures".

But the group, led by The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said that those unable to reopen should be provided with further financial assistance to ensure their survival.

Responding to the announcement, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran said: "Rather than talking about reopening drive-in cinemas, the Prime Minister should bother himself with fixing the shambles that is his schools policy. It shows how skewed his priorities are."

And she added: "The Government need to get a grip on the disarray they have created in education rather than announce things like this. 

"People just want the Government to lay out a plan that is coherent rather than this constant drip-drip of small schemes.

"It shows how scatter-gun the Government are. They are chasing headlines to try to move the news away from their woeful handling of the pandemic."

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