A HERITAGE manager cannot say for certain when National Trust properties will open their doors to the public after they were closed due to coronavirus.

However, the National Trust's general manager in south Worcestershire says staff have been following Government guidance 'to the letter' at properties like Croome, designed by Capability Brown, and The Firs in Lower Broadheath, Elgar's birthplace. When visitors do return they will have to pre-book to ensure social distancing can be maintained.

National Trust properties and others managed by English Heritage, or privately owned, remain closed as managers plan for the return of visitors. The National Trust has also been carrying out some maintenance work on the properties.

As previously reported the doors are still shut at Greyfriars in Friar Street, Worcester, Croome in High Green, near Severn Stoke, Hawford Dovecote in Hawford, The Firs in Lower Broadheath, Wichenford Dovecote, Hanbury Hall and Gardens, Middle Littleton Tithe Barn near Evesham and the Fleece Inn in Bretforton, all managed by the National Trust.

English Heritage, which manages Witley Court, has been offering virtual tours of its top 30 properties, including Witley Court. English Heritage took the decision to close all staffed historic sites from March 18 and cancel public events during the closure period.

Michael Forster-Smith, South Worcestershire general manager for the National Trust, said: "At the moment we are unable to give any update on Croome’s reopening as it will depend entirely on the Government’s decision on when ticketed outdoors sites can safely reopen.

"The National Trust is following governmental advice to the letter, in order to ensure that we only open our places when it is safe to do so for visitors and staff.

"The latest Government guidance states that public visitors are not allowed to use outdoor ticketed venues – our sites in South Worcestershire, such as Croome and the Firs, fall into this category – so these places remain closed for now. When government advice permits us to re-open, we plan to introduce a pre-booking system to encourage social distancing, in order to maintain the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors whilst they are on site.

"We have been carrying out a very limited amount of work during the lock-down period, but this amounts to essential maintenance, repairs and on-site security duties."