THE four country parks managed by Dorset Council are set to reopen to the public after the bank holiday weekend.

Gates at Avon Heath, Durlston, Moors Valley and Thorncombe Woods will be open from 9am on Tuesday.

The country parks closed in March due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Following the easing of lockdown by central government, the council has made some adjustments to the running of the parks so people can enjoy the open air and countryside whilst protecting their health during the current pandemic.

Councillor Peter Wharf, Dorset Council deputy leader, said: “We understand that people are keen to get outdoors, so our country park teams and our partners Forestry England at Moors Valley, have worked hard to put in measures to help visitors enjoy the parks whilst protecting their health during the current pandemic.”

The range of measures for visitors’ safety include 2-metre distancing signs and provision of hand sanitiser. Rangers will be on hand to help people enjoy their visit and manage any queues.

Councillor Wharf added: “As you can appreciate, we’ve had to make a number of changes to the way our country parks are operated so they can be reopened.

“This is a new experience for us all, and the teams on site will do their best to make sure everyone has an enjoyable time. The range of measures means there may be queues for facilities, including parking and toilets. Please be patient and understanding and respect others.

“By following the government rules on social distancing, and staying alert, we hope everyone will be able to enjoy our country parks.”

Will cafes, visitor centres and cycle hire be available?

For the continued safety of visitors and employees, play areas, cafes, visitor centres and cycle hire will not re-open on Tuesday. However, this will be monitored and, if possible, takeaway facilities will be made available later in the week. Updates will be posted on social media and on the council’s website

Picnic benches are available at the parks and have been placed at a safe distance from each other so families can make the most of the outdoors.

Are car parking charges in force?

Usual car parking charges will apply at all the parks, with contactless payment wherever possible. The car park machines will be disinfected hourly and hand sanitiser will be available at all machines.

Visitors are asked to park legally and responsibly in the car parks, keep highways and gateways clear for others to pass safely. If the car park looks full, people are asked to be prepared to make the decision to turn around and come another time.

Residents who are vulnerable, or who are showing symptoms which may indicate coronavirus, should continue to follow government stay at home guidance.