The National Trust is opening parklands, coast, countryside and gardens for free in the United Kingdom, so that people have access to outdoor space during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bluebells bloom in Ashridge Estate
Bluebells in bloom in Ashridge Estate, Chiltern Hills ©Martyn Ferry/Getty Images

The conservation charity said the move is meant to encourage people to enjoy open spaces during the period of social distancing. The Trust, which has over 200 outdoor locations in the UK said it will "open as many of its gardens and parks for free" removing its usual entrance fees. But added it was closing its buildings to the public, including houses, cafes and shops by Friday (20 March), "to help the nation fight the spread of the coronavirus."

Ancient bridge over the River Braan at the Hermitage in Dunkeld, Scotland
Ancient bridge over the River Braan at the National Trust Hermitage in Dunkeld, Scotland ©Brad McGinley Photography/Getty Images

However, not all Trust outdoor spaces will remain open. The charity, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, said it's working to understand which ones have "enough space for adequate social distancing" and people should keep an eye on the National Trust's website for updated information before heading out for a visit.

Director general Hilary McGrady said: "we want to honour our mission – to enable people and nature to thrive. Over the coming weeks we will do all that we can to keep on providing public benefit through caring for places and giving people access wherever possible."

The Pennine Way at Bleaklow
The Pennine way at Bleaklow, North Derbyshire, England  ©R A Kearton/Getty Images

It comes following the British government's advice that people observe social distancing rules to limit the spread of COVID-19, which aim to reduce the amount of close contact people have with one another. Even in outdoor spaces, people should stay at least two metres (6.5 feet) apart from each other, avoid touching surfaces and practice good hygiene.

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