Zoos and safari parks allowed to reopen in England from June 15

Zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen in England from June 15, Boris Johnson will announce tomorrow.

The Prime Minister will update the nation on the easing of lockdown restrictions on Wednesday as he aims to reopen the economy.

Under pressure from zoos warning they face an exponential threat, Mr Johnson will say at the Downing Street press conference they can reopen next week as long as they can uphold social distancing rules.

He will also announce the easing of restrictions on outdoor attractions where people remain in their cars, such as safari parks like Knowsley and drive-in cinemas, because the risk of spreading the disease is lower outside.

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The move will pave the way for zoos to reopen in England alongside non-essential shops, despite schools remaining shuttered to many pupils.

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 will come after Chester Zoo and other institutions across the nation warned they may face permanent closure if they were not allowed to reopen.

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Chester Zoo was forced to launch a campaign last week to "Save our Zoo" as they said they had crippling debts of £24m and needed £1.6m a month to prevent its closure.

The public listened to their plea and helped raise over £2m with more than 100,000 people pledging their support.

Jamie Christon, Chester Zoo's chief operating officer said: "We've been overwhelmed by the response and the amount of people showing their support it's absolutely fantastic.

"Sending out the tweets, it was not something we wanted to do but we knew that we had a lot of admirers in the North West. We thought we might get £50,000 or £100,000 at the most.

"We are a charity and 97% of our income comes from people coming through the gates. Around this time of the year we would expect around 10,000 to 12,000 people but we were going to cut that to only allow 3,000 to ensure visitors could keep their distance."

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The PM's father, Stanley Johnson, had also joined calls for zoos to "reopen as soon as possible" after they were ordered to close when the lockdown was imposed on March 23.

Though the easing will be a relief, zoos will be told that they must not reopen indoor exhibitions, such as reptile houses, and must ensure amenities including cafes are take-away only.

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