26 Sept 2022

Gradual reopening strategy for tourism heritage sites announced by OPW

Gradual reopening strategy for tourism heritage sites announced by OPW

Kilkenny Castle

The Office of Public Works has announced its strategy to respond to the Government roadmap last week and set out the details of some of the sites in their care that will begin reopening to the public during the first phase after May 18. 

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A key part of the approach is to ensure that sites can only reopen where it is possible to do so in accordance with public health guidance and, in particular, with the Return to Work Safely Protocol published by Government. 

In addition, the OPW is emphasising the need to address the needs of vulnerable groups and has made special provision at certain sites in relation to people who have been cocooning.

From Monday 18th May therefore, a number of parkland locations and other sites with open spaces will begin to reopen to the public in accordance with the public health guidelines. 

Social distancing will apply and visitors will be strongly encouraged to observe all the regulations set out in respect of ensuring that when they use these facilities, they remain in small groups and within their own households. 

Visitors are also reminded of the 5km distance limit and OPW have confirmed that public carparks at larger sites in particular will not be available; these will only reopen later in the phased approach in line with the Government Roadmap. 

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The OPW has worked with An Garda Síochána in planning surrounding traffic movements in particular and has agreed that the position in relation to traffic volumes coming to sites will be monitored. 

If, in the view of An Garda Síochána or the OPW, the traffic volume indicates that the 5km limit is being ignored, or if there are significant congestion issues arising, a decision may be taken to reclose certain facilities on public health grounds.

The sites where opening or partial opening will be permitted during the first phase after 18 May are set out attached. 

This listing also indicates where further staged openings are tentatively planned for later stages, concluding at Stage 4 after the 20th July, when it is hoped that a range of indoor facilities may reopen, assuming that the national approach has not altered in the interim and that robust arrangements can be made to ensure the safety of staff and visitors at these locations. 

The reopening of these – and any other locations which may be included separately in the interim – will be confirmed by the OPW at each relevant stage in the roadmap.

The OPW has also, as part of this gradual reopening, made arrangements at certain sites to reserve certain spaces and times exclusively for Cocooners. 

This group has, by virtue of the restrictions on their movement, been particularly and significantly affected in the last several weeks and the OPW is creating a safe space and time for this particular group of people to enjoy these sites in the open air. 

OPW is asking all other users who visit our sites to respect these provisions so that the safety of these individuals can be protected as far as possible.

The sites where these facilities for Cocooners are immediately available is as follows:

Emo Court, Co. Laois
10am to 1pm
Fota Arboretum, Co. Cork
Pleasure Garden & Walled Garden
10am to 1pm
Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, Dublin
Rose Garden.
10am to 1pm
Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Full Garden
10am to 1pm
Kilkenny Castle, Co. Kilkenny
Rose Garden
10am to 1pm
Nenagh Castle, Co. Tipperary
10am to 1pm
Portumna Castle, Co. Galway
Walled Garden.
10am to 1pm
Phoenix Park, Dublin
Visitor Centre Walled Garden
10am to 1pm
Roscrea Heritage, Co. Tipperary
Grounds & Walled garden
10am to 1pm
Further Cocooner-reserved spaces may be announced at a later date when additional sites are identified and arrangements made so that they can become available.

OPW also announced that while they will pursue a continuing strategy of progressively opening sites where it can be achieved safely and in accordance with protocols and public health guidelines, there are certain tourism site locations where the position cannot in their view be mitigated sufficiently and these locations must therefore remain closed in the short term and possibly for the remainder of the 2020 visitor season. 

The position in relation to these sites will be kept under review and should circumstances change, an announcement will be made.

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