Museum Gardens could soon reopen – but Dean’s Park stays closed for now

Happy days… relaxing in Museum Gardens. Photograph: YorkMix

Closed parks in York could reopen – after a government minister highlighted the importance of people being able to visit green spaces and cemeteries for their mental and physical health.

Museum Gardens – which is run by the York Museums Trust charity – has been shut since March 23. The organisation is now looking to reopen the city centre venue.

Dean’s Park, run by the Dean and Chapter of York Minster, Homestead Park, run by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and York Cemetery are also shut.

Council-run parks – including Rowntree Park and West Bank Park – have remained open.

A spokesperson for York Museums Trust said the organisation is “struggling to survive” – and has lost 70 per cent of its income.

The Trust runs the gardens, as well as the Yorkshire Museum, Castle Museum and York Art Gallery.

Important for residents

A dog walker reads the notice on a closed Museum Gardens in March

Despite the difficulties the charity is facing – a spokesperson said they are looking at ways to reopen Museum Gardens.

He said:

  • As a charity York Museums Trust is struggling to survive in these difficult times. The closure of the Museums has meant we have lost 70 per cent of our income and as a result most of our employees have been furloughed to enable us to cope financially.

    This includes all of the team who look after and open the registered botanical Gardens for the benefit of the public.

    Despite this difficult situation, we do appreciate how important the gardens are for many people living in the city and are now looking at ways to make reopening them a possibility, without having a detrimental impact on the future of the trust.

He said they hope to be able to issue a further update in the next few days.

Staying closed

Dean’s Park, next to York Minster. Photograph: YorkMix

A spokesperson for York Minster said staff who manage Dean’s Park are on furlough and that there are not currently enough staff to “ensure that safe social distancing will be maintained” in the park.

She said: “We will keep this decision under review but for the time being Dean’s Park will remain closed.”

Trustees at York Cemetery say they are keen to reopen as soon as the law allows so people can visit the graves of loved ones.

Robert Jenkinson, a trustee, said: “Until this changes, we may not open the cemetery to general public access.

“We were particularly disappointed to have to keep York Cemetery closed on Easter Sunday, which is traditionally a day on which many families like to remember those who have died and decorate their memorials with flowers.”

He added that careful arrangements have been made for the safety of families attending funeral services at the cemetery chapel.

Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Local Government, said at a press briefing that councils should keep parks and cemeteries open.