Zoos, Aquariums and Wildlife Sanctuaries: Reopening

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:52 pm on 11th June 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 3:52 pm, 11th June 2020

My hon. Friend gives the perfect illustration of the confusion that the organisations feel and that members of the public will feel. I say to Ministers, to the Government and to Government Members who are speaking to Ministers that they should try to treat the public with a bit of respect. If there is a reason for the closures, they should explain it to us. They should tell us why some things can open and others cannot, but should not be inconsistent or illogical, for the very reason that my hon. Friend has talked about.

Chester zoo is a huge expanse of parkland and gardens. It is not like some small private animal collection somewhere. It is a big outdoor event, and it is not opening any of its indoor attractions. My personal favourite, the bat house, as well as the camel house and the chimpanzee viewing area—all will be closed. Only the outdoor viewing areas will be open. The zoo has put in place very careful visitor management procedures regulating the flows within the zoo, but limiting, as my good friend the hon. Member for Romford talked about, the number of visitors outside the zoo, including by managing the car parks correctly, so that all visitors will be covid-safe.

Those procedures have been given the seal of approval by safety officers from the local authority, so Chester zoo is akin to so many others in the work that it has done to ensure that it is safe for visitors. The Government, I hope, will take that into account when they are considering further regulations or the relaxation of further regulations right across the patch.