ALL National Trust parks and gardens closed their gates last night, despite it being planned for them to stay open.

The charity made the decision after the good weather forecast and Mothering Sunday increased demand, making it difficult for people to obey social distancing measures.

It comes after the government announced the closure of pubs, restaurants, cafes and gyms on Friday.

The National Trust had originally planned to keep its gardens open, but close all houses, shops and cafes. However, Director General Hilary McGrady said that it was in the best interest of the health and wellbeing of staff, volunteers and visitors.

Having observed the numbers visiting our properties today I am no longer convinced we can maintain social distancing over Mother’s Day when numbers are likely to grow, and beyond.

She added: “We have now sadly taken the decision to close all of our parks and gardens, in addition to our houses, shops and cafes, to avoid crowding that puts social distancing at risk.

“We know that people are likely to need space and fresh air in the coming weeks and months and we will do all we can to provide access wherever possible.

“Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing measures.

“Over the coming weeks our digital platforms - our website, social media feeds, podcasts and video - will become even more important, ensuring the places of nature, beauty and history that we care for on behalf of the nation can remain open for business virtually while we are temporarily closed.

“We will also be ramping up our efforts to help people connect with nature wherever they are and to find moments of joy in the world around them. We will be providing rich content and staying in touch with our members and followers throughout this time.”