Covid 19 visitor centre safety measures

NWT Chief Executive Pamela Abbott meets Cley catering Manager, Janine Shea at Cley Marshes
It has been nearly four months since we closed our five centres and bird watching hides around the county to help fight the spread of coronavirus in Norfolk. As the situation and Government guidance progresses, we have been working hard to put new procedures and safety measures in place to enable some of our centres to reopen, albeit with some restrictions.

Our visitor centres will closely follow Government covid guidance. We know many have been enjoying walking along the paths and East Bank at Cley overlooking the marshes. Although at the moment we must keep the hides and access boardwalk closed for safe social distancing measures, we are pleased to be able to offer toilet facilities and a small take away menu.

We have produced a comprehensive guide for our staff and site managers, along with a covid risk assessment. Below you will find some insight into the preparations we have made to ensure safety, and to let you know of the measures we have put into place that you can expect on your visit. The full document is available on request.

We are truly grateful to our members and visitors for being patient with us during the lockdown and for following the North Norfolk Coast’s ‘enjoy, respect, protect’ plea. will continue to review the situation in light of any Government updates.

Signage and limiting visitor numbers

We have installed safety signage throughout every visitor centre. This includes instruction around social distancing measures, hand sanitisation stations and directional signage to help manage the flow of visitors.

Our centres vary in size and layout, so to help keep everyone safe, we will limit the number of customers visiting at any one time. 

 

External queues

This might mean at times that visitors need to queue outside of the buildings. We will use signs and floor graphics to indicate direction of travel and safe distances for the queues.

Entrances and hand sanitising

Most doors will have clear signage as  entrance or exit doors only. They will remain open where possible to reduce touch points. We have installed touch free sanitiser units at each centre which we request visitors use as they enter the building. 
 

Face Coverings

In line with government advice from Friday 24  July it will be mandatory by law for all visitors entering the centres to be wearing a face covering. This ruling applies to the centres as they are retail spaces. Legitimate reasons for not wearing a mask are set out in the government guidance. Staff are exempt from this mandatory ruling. The government advises that all retailers are expected to encourage compliance with this law. We reserve the right to not grant someone access to the building if they do not follow the wearing of a face covering. 

Social distancing, furniture and layout

In the centres we have signs reminding visitors about safe distancing and floor graphics to ensure spacing around the welcome desks and counters.
 
At each centre we have reviewed the furniture layout to ensure there is adequate space for staff and visitors to move around in safely. In some areas we have used tables and other fixtures to create social distancing pathways. 

All reception desks and catering counters will have a protective screen in place.

Please only approach the desks to make payment or receive products. Our staff will not hand retail items directly to you, and we ask you please hold items with the price facing the staff so they can be easily viewed. 

Cafe offering

At catering counters, again please use the safe social distancing floor graphic and only approach the counter when directed to pay or receive refreshments. These will be placed on the counter not self-selected by visitors. 

We are only able to offer take away menu at the moment, and so there is no seating available.

We hope to increase our offering to a more regular service over the coming weeks and months. We acknowledge that the extra use of single use packaging will have to increase in line with this but the vast majority of this will be recyclable. 

Visitor services, social distancing and transactions at our tills

We will continue to deliver a warm, knowledgeable service that you expect at our visitor centres. It might be that some of the points of engagement take a little longer than normal and we ask you to bear with us while we all adapt to this new way of working. 

We ask that payments are made by contactless card only (which have now been raised to £45 limit); with rare exceptions will we consider other methods of payment. 

We also ask that visitors try to only handle stock which they are intending to buy. Any unwanted stock that is touched and not purchased must be handed in to the reception desk where it will be either sanitised or quarantined for 48 hours. 

 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): what we are providing 

PPE and its safe and sensible usage during the Covid 19 outbreak is fundamental to our approach.

Staff at all centres have access to comprehensive PPE kits. We have asked all our catering staff to wear face visors where they are handling food and drink and where social distancing may not be fully possible at all times. We already have stringent hygiene rules in place as part of our food management system, but all staff have now been directed to increase hand sanitisation throughout the day to minimise the threat of infection. Our staff have also been provided with face masks to wear at their own discretion currently.

At our other visitor centre nature reserves

The visitor centre at Hickling Broad reopened on Monday 13 July and welcomed visitors keen to spot Norfolk’s beautiful butterfly, the swallowtail, which is only found in the Broads National Park. The nature reserve here has been open for several weeks, with a one-way path system proving successful. The popular boat trail is not running but is under review as to when it can resume. NWT’s centre at Holme Dunes on the northwest corner of Norfolk has also reopened, although hides and their access routes remain closed.

NWT’s visitor centres and takeaway café service will be open 10am till 4pm every day. Car park charges are operating at Holme Dunes and will resume at Cley Beach car park from Saturday 18 July. With limited access on to Cley Marshes nature reserve as the hides and boardwalk are closed, there is currently no entry fee.

The visitor centre at Weeting Heath, which normally opens March until August, and provides access to two viewing hides, will not reopen this year. This reserve is home to the enigmatic stone curlews – ground nesting birds known as Norfolk Plovers – which people have been able to enjoy watching via webcams on the NWT website.

NWT is also not currently able to reopen the floating Broads Wildlife Centre at Ranworth Broad, because the boardwalk does not allow for adequate social distancing. From here a webcam is broadcasting live footage of the nesting terns on a new platform on the broad.