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Joy as Midland theme parks, galleries, museums and cinemas plan to reopen

By Rebecca Sayce | Attractions | Published: | Last Updated:

Attractions across the Midlands are celebrating the news that they can reopen following yesterday's easing of lockdown restrictions.

Showcase Cinemas in Dudley and Walsall will have measures in place when they reopen on July 10

Boris Johnson yesterday confirmed that cinemas, museums and galleries in England can welcome visitors again from July 4.

Venues closed since the lockdown began will now be able to welcome visitors once more as long as safety measures are in place.

Black Country Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Corin Crane, said the easing of lockdown measures is a welcome step for many businesses in the area.

"While the relaxation of the two-metre rule will help more firms increase capacity, we are still a long way from business as usual," he continued.

"Broader efforts to boost business and consumer confidence will still be needed to help firms trade their way out of this crisis.

"It goes without saying that public health should also remain the priority for any easing of lockdown measures.

"The chamber will be on hand to support our members through the coming weeks as they prepare to return to trading and operations."

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Wolverhampton Art Gallery will open its doors to visitors from July 4.

A statement from the attraction said: "Following the Government announcement on June 23 that museums and galleries can start to reopen from July 4 at the earliest, we are working to re-open our venues in a way that is safe for visitors and staff.

"Safety is a key priority for the council and as soon as we have confirmed dates for when and how we will reopen we will share these via our website www.wolverhamptonarts.org.uk and social media channels."

The Bear Grylls Adventure is set to reopen to visitors from next weekend for guests.

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Based at the NEC, in Birmingham, The Bear Grylls Adventure, which is owned by Merlin Entertainments, who run Alton Towers, will open on Saturday, July 4.

The majority of the activity centre's indoor and outdoor activities will reopen to visitors – including high ropes, iFLY indoor skydiving, the Royal Marines-inspired assault course and the cage snorkel experience.

Guests must pre-book their visit due to reduced capacities on each activity to comply with Government social distancing guidelines. New safety measures will also be in place such as contactless temperature checking before entry, new routes around the attraction, new queuing formats, staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and enhanced cleaning.

Hand sanitiser stations will be located throughout the attraction, screens will be installed at desk and till areas, and all visitors will be required to bring a suitable mask or face covering with them as they will be required to wear them to participate in a number of activities.

Marc Bell, general manager, said: "We are thrilled to be reopening from July 4, and the team have done an amazing job while we have been closed to ensure the new safety measures are in place across the attraction.

"We are confident that we can offer the amazing adventure experience that we know our visitors love, in line with best practice advice on social distancing and hygiene.

"We can’t wait to reopen our doors and begin making memories with our guests again."

The Black Country Living Museum is planning to re-open on August 1, with a 'phased approach to opening'.

Tickets to the attraction are available to purchase online to be used when it reopens.

Warwick Castle is set to reopen to the public

Overnight stays and day tickets at Warwick Castle are now on sale for July 4 onwards.

Grounds and gardens tickets are still available until then.

A number of key processes have been implemented to ensure visitor safety. Increased health and safety procedures are in place for enhanced cleaning of all areas including toilets and seating, introduction of one-way systems supported by clear wayfinding, social distancing markers and sanitiser stations.

Entry will be dependent on advance online booking only, with availability subject to new daily maximum capacities to ensure allowance for social distancing. Temperature spot-checks may be carried out.

Contactless payment for food and drink have been implemented, from takeaway outlets offering snacks, hot and cold drinks and ice cream.

Toilets will be available to guests on a one-in-one-out basis.

Birmingham Museums Trust still plans to keep its attractions closed for the foreseeable future.

A statement from the business said: "In response to the announcement today by the Government, Birmingham Museums Trust sites are to remain closed for the immediate future.

Sarehole Mill

"We continue to work closely with all our stakeholders including the City Council and Arts Council England.

"We cannot wait to welcome visitors back as soon as reasonably practical to do so, but we must balance this with securing the long-term financial sustainability of the trust and our nine museum sites.

"We will update this website as matters progress."

Sites affected include Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Sarehole Mill, Thinktank, Aston Hall, Blakesley Hall, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Soho House, Weoley Castle and the Museums Collection Centre.

There has not been an update on when Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Bilston Gallery will reopen amid the new guidelines.

Cadbury World is set to reopen, but a set date has not yet been announced.

Visitors will still be able to enjoy the full self-guided tour of Cadbury World, which now includes social distancing circles laid out on the floor, helping everyone to stay a safe distance apart. Hand sanitising stations have also been installed in each zone.

Cadbury World also plans to extend its opening hours on weekends and during the school holidays to help spread visitors out throughout each day.

Gerrard Baldwin, general manager at Cadbury World, comments: “The health and safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority and the whole team has been working incredibly hard over the past three months to introduce our new safety measures, from enhanced cleaning to social distancing guidance.

“We’re delighted to hear the government’s latest announcement which now provides the certainty for us to plan for our opening date.

"We look forward to being able to announce that very soon and start welcoming visitors back safely to our chocolatey world.”

Tours

Kiddermninster's Drakelow Tunnels is taking bookings from July 4.

Visitors allowed on tours will be limited, and visitors have been asked to bring their own masks.

Online payments only will be accepted. Socially distanced tours will consist of small groups limited to 10 people.

The tours will be kept separate and no more than two groups will be onsite at any given time.

Temperature of visitors and staff will be taken prior to admittance.

Alton Towers has confirmed it will reopen its doors to visitors next month.

Accommodation at the park will also reopen on July 4.

This will see the reopening of the 'majority of outdoor rides and attractions', says the park.

Alton Towers Resort

A number of new measures will be introduced at the venue including. All guests must pre-book tickets online in advance to enable capacity control, as the attraction will be reopening with reduced entry.

Employees and guests will be subject to a temperature check using a non-touch thermometer before being allowed into the resort.

Guests over the age of six will be asked to wear face coverings or masks on 'some rides and rollercoasters'

There will be enhanced cleaning, hygiene stations and additional hand sanitiser at 'key locations', as well as social distancing markers and operating adjustments around the attraction.

Additional personal protective equipment will be provided for all staff.

Similar hygiene and social distancing measures will be in place within the resort's accommodation.

Some indoor attractions will, however, remain closed until further notice, says the park.

Emma Catterall, divisional director at Alton Towers Resort, said: “It is fantastic that we can now confirm that our theme park and accommodation will reopen from July 4.

"We can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best, and we’re working hard to make sure that we’re implementing the new hygiene and distancing measures in a way that will still allow our guests to enjoy a memorable, fun visit to Alton Towers Resort.”

The announcement follows the successful opening of the Alton Towers Gardens on June 6 - and is in line with the UK Government’s latest guidance on the reopening of visitor attractions and hospitality businesses, says the attraction.

Drayton Manor is also set to reopen to thrill seekers from July 4.

Flow

Thomas Land, the carousel, Jolly Buccaneer, Accelerator, Flying Dutchman , and the Staffordshire attraction's 15-acre zoo are all set to reopen from July 4 to 17, followed by The Bounty Pirate Ship, Maelstrom , Air Race, Shockwave, Polperro Express, Buffalo Coaster, Pandemonium, Apocalypse, Drunken Barrels and Sheriff's Showdown on July 18 to October 31 in a phased reopening.

Some rides will remain closed due to restrictions.

A number of safety measures will be in place to ensure visitor safety.

Capacities have been restricted on site to enable a safe guest flow and the temperatures of all staff and guests will be taken before entering the site. Numbers will be restricted in outlets and a one way operation will be in place

A virtual queue app for all rides and selected catering outlets to help manage queue lines

All staff have undergone full training and will be wearing appropriate PPE at all times, and all outlets will have clear shields to protect staff and visitors.

Food outlets will be open as takeaways with pre-orders available on the Drayton Manor App. Only card payments will be accepted across the site.

Additional hand sanitising units will be available on site and he site will undergo enhanced cleaning. Rides and outlets may close for cleaning at periods throughout the day.

Tickets will only be available online and wont be available on the day

Animal experiences and keeper talks have been suspended until further notice.

Drayton Manor is set to reopen

Showcase Cinemas has today announced the re-opening of cinemas from July 4, including venues in Walsall and Dudley.

Both of these cinemas will reopen on July 10 with new enhanced health and safety measures for both customers and staff.

These new safety protocols are designed to help everyone “Be Showcase Safe” and include a limited capacity in every cinema screen to maintain social distancing, staggered film start times during the day alongside fewer screenings, which mean fewer people in the lobby at any one time.

Guests are encouraged to wear face coverings, and multiple hand sanitising stations have been placed throughout the cinema for guests to use.

After each screening, staff will conduct a thorough cleaning regime, which includes a new anti-viral fogging machine that eliminates airborne viruses on contact, and will be used on every seat in every screen between shows and at the end of each day. Each auditorium will also have a new air purifying system installed that also kills airborne viruses.

Perspex shields have been installed at all till points and film-goers will now also be able to order their food and drink in advance and collect from a designated pick up section. Contactless payment is encouraged for any purchases made in cinema.

Collection

Another new initiative is the self scanning of tickets to enter film screenings – guests that have booked tickets online in advance will be able to scan their confirmation email on their smartphone in order to gain access to their film. Alternatively, they can use the self service ticket collection machines in the lobby.

To welcome back cinemagoers, Showcase Cinemas will be screening a raft of classic films for just £5 a ticket ahead of the release of Disney’s Mulan and Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated Tenet later in July.

On re-opening the doors to Showcase Cinemas, UK General Manager Mark Barlow said: “We are all really excited about welcoming film fans back to Showcase Cinemas.

“We’ve been busy preparing for our re-opening by making all our sites as Showcase Safe as possible for the comfort of both staff and guests, which has always been our top priority.

"We encourage all our guests to use the hand sanitiser available, regularly wash their hands, wear a face covering and practice social distancing when inside the cinema.

“There are some fantastic films to be released in 2020 and we can’t wait to see people enjoying movies back on the big screen.

"We’ve also brought some classic hits and recent favourites back to remind everyone just how great it is to see them in the cinema.”

Showcase Cinemas in Dudley and Walsall will have measures in place when they reopen on July 10

Cineworld has confirmed plans to reopen its cinemas across England on July 10, with dates to follow for Cineworld cinemas in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Cinemas in the area include branches in Wolverhampton, Birmingham Broad Street, Birmingham NEC and Telford.

Social distancing measures will be implemented across all areas within the cinema.

All employee and customer toilets will be stocked with anti-bacterial hand soap, and stringent hand washing guidelines will be trained out to all employees to supplement our current personal hygiene policy.

Hand sanitizer stations will be provided in all cinemas for customers and employees, and a new cleaning programme has been designed.

Tickets will be available to book in advance on our website and via the Cineworld app, available on iOS and Android. Confirmation emails can be used as tickets, and e-tickets are available on the app.

The cinema's booking system has been updated to allow you to sit your friends and family in our cinema screens while ensuring a safe distance between customers from separate groups. This will vary on the capacity and layout of each screen.

Extensive

Film start and end times will be staggered to reduce customers cross paths with other customers going in or out of other screens and build-up of crowds in the foyer. Additional cleaning time will be added between films.

Screens will be added at concessions areas where safe distancing cannot be maintained.

Tills will be accepting contactless card payments up to a value of £45 and Apple Pay/Google Pay mobile payments with no limit in our cinemas. The ticket machines in most cinemas also accept contactless payments.

All employees will receive specific Covid-19 training and PPE will be provided to employees where the risk assessment has deemed it necessary, in line with government requirements.

Odeon - that has branches in Dudley, West Bromwich, Birmingham and Stafford - has confirmed that it will start opening its cinemas from July 4.

OdeonCinemas to reopen from July 4

Odeon Luxe Birmingham Broadway Plaza is set to open on this date, while Odeon Luxe Telford and Odeon Luxe Stafford will reopen on July 9.

Meanwhile, Odeon Birmingham New Street and Odeon West Bromwich will reopen on July 13, followed by Odeon Dudley on July 16.

To ensure guests can enjoy the 'Odeon safer cinema experience', the cinema chain worked with the UK Cinema Association and UK Government to introduce enhanced health and safety measures to each site.

These include contactless payments, pre-packaged food and drinks to be ordered ahead of time, limited seating, staggered showtimes and more.

Birmingham's Sea Life Centre is also set to reopen on July 4.

Craig Dunkerley, spokesperson for Sea Life, said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming guests back to all of our Sea Life sites across England and Ireland and as ever, the health and safety of our visitors and staff remains our number one priority.

“Each site is utilising an extensive range of safety measures, designed to ensure a happy, safe and healthy experience for all.

Birmingham Sea Life Centre has measures in place reaady to reopen

"I’m sure after many the extended lockdown, many families, particularly with younger children, will be in real need of escapism, entertainment and a way of making happy new memories with those they love.

“I know our teams around the country – plus our site’s aquatic residents – are all looking forward to offering just that.”

Guests will now need to pre-book a specific time slot for their visit to ensure visitor numbers remain at a safe level throughout the day.

Queues outside and inside the attraction, plus features such as talks from expert team members, will be 'carefully spaced for everyone’s safety'.

There may also be phased entrancing in place at certain points around the site to keep groups apart while also making sure everyone gets to meet every creature on display. Markers will be in place at most points onsite to help make this simple.

Sea Life staff may be wearing PPE items so they can work safely. Fixtures such as clear plastic screens at check-in desks and tills may also be in-place.

Funding

Temperature checks will be in place at all entrances for guests and team members and additional cleaning will take place throughout the day. Hygiene stations and hand sanitiser will also be available.

This follows the reopening of zoos across the UK from June 15.

Animal parks across the UK, including Chester and Twycross zoos, had already warned they may have to close indefinitely without urgent funding.

Dudley Zoo and Castle had issued a rally cry for funding support – after the park revealed it was losing £100,000 a week while they were closed. A Just Giving page, set up by the attraction, had so far raised more than £20,000.

National Trust properties such as Shugborough Estate near Stafford, Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton and Dudmaston Hall near Bridgnorth are now available to visit with prebooked tickets.

Last weekend, takeaway services were made available at Bantock Park House and Museum and West Park cafes.

Rebecca Sayce

By Rebecca Sayce
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.sayce@expressandstar.co.uk

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