Weekly Column 11.08.20

Virtual meetings have become the new normal and I have taken part in many such calls over the last few weeks and months.

Earlier in the summer, I joined representatives from Staffordshire County Council, Visit England and a number of Staffordshire hospitality businesses in a virtual meeting to discuss plans and ideas on how to reopen our really valuable hospitality and tourism businesses in a COVID-19 secure way.

Alton Towers gave a detailed presentation of their proposals to reopen safely.  Merlin Group, which owns Alton Towers, has significant experience of reopening attractions around the world and were able to share those experiences with others.  Attractions like theme parks are different from other venues for mass gatherings as capacity could be reduced to allow for appropriate social distancing, seating positions in rides and attractions are controlled by employees and a large percentage of attraction attendance is most people visit with other family members who are already in the same “bubble”.

It was a really useful call and a few weeks after the go-ahead was given for attractions such as Alton Towers to open on July 4th, I was pleased to be able to visit and see for myself just how everything was working.

The visit was different – there are certainly fewer people allowed in the park to allow for social distancing; there are empty seats and rows on the attractions and signs everywhere informing guests of safety and hygiene measures that need to be followed but my family and I had a great visit so I would urge people to support local businesses such as Alton Towers and have an enjoyable but safe day out.

Alton Towers has also been awarded the VisitEngland ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry charter mark which verifies that the Resort meets the Government and public health guidance on COVID-19.