Our latest statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Thursday 21 May 2020

A man enjoying a solitary walk through a woodland reserve

Our latest statement on coronavirus (Covid-19)

Risk assessment

RSPB’s overarching risk assessment as expected by Government guidelines to manage the risk to our workforce and our visitors from coronavirus

RSPB coronavirus risk assessment. 250 KB

Update: 21st May 2020

A message from RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight

In my last update, I let you know of our gradual and phased approach to the challenging task of reopening our amazing network of nature reserves, following the change to Government guidance in England.

From the many of you who have been in touch, we know how much you are looking forward to getting back out into nature and enjoying these places. Rest assured, we are working hard to open our reserves as soon as we can. However, we will only do so when we have everything in place to keep our employees, volunteers and you – our fantastic members and supporters – safe.

As you know, nesting season is also well and truly underway. As well as being one of nature’s busiest times, it’s also when wildlife is at its most vulnerable. With reports from across our nature reserves of birds nesting on or near our usually busy paths and viewpoints, from marsh harriers to cranes, it’s vital we make sure they are safe too.

Over the past week, our teams across England have begun to return to our nature reserves to restart this crucial conservation work and wildlife monitoring – work that just couldn’t take place under lockdown restrictions. This is why, unlike managing a country park or a coastal path, we’re taking a little time to fully open safely.

A gradual reopening across England

We are also working hard to make our nature reserves safe and ready for visitors. As I’m sure you can appreciate, when you next visit the experience won’t be the same as before.

We are busy re-routing paths, marking one-way routes and building passing places where necessary, so that social distancing guidelines can be followed as easily as possible.

We’ve also taken the difficult decision to not open any hides, toilet facilities or visitor centres for the time being. While I know this will be disappointing and may make visiting difficult for some, it’s important we remain focused on keeping our nature reserves safe for people and wildlife. For now, this means staying in the great outdoors.

A number of nature reserves are to open this week, followed by a further group after the bank holiday weekend. By early June we hope the majority will be ready to receive visitors. The latest information, for this and coming weeks, will be regularly updated here. To avoid any disappointment, please check our website before visiting a reserve.

In line with Government guidelines our nature reserves in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remain closed for now.

Enjoying nature safely

As many of you have told us, nature can be truly uplifting and important for our health and wellbeing. But while it is a great time to be outdoors, I would urge you not to rush out as soon as you hear your local nature reserve is open.

Nature will still be there to enjoy in a few weeks’ time and delaying your visit will help give our teams more time to focus on conservation and to get used to new and very different ways of working. It’s going to take time for all of us to adapt so please bear with us.

Of course, those of you lucky enough to live within walking distance of one of our reserves may have been enjoying the public rights of way that criss-cross the majority of them for some time. But with even the grass verges in our car parks potentially hiding skylark or meadow pipit chicks, please do tread carefully!

Thank you again for your continued support and especially your patience. It really means a great deal to all of us at the RSPB. In the meantime, stay safe, keep following all Government guidelines wherever you live, and we all look forward to welcoming you back when we can.

Wishing you and your loved ones the very best of health.

Robin singing in tree

Please visit safely

Some reserves are open in England and Northern Ireland


Update: 11th May 2020

A message from RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight

Our reserves remain closed for now, but nature will be worth the wait 

Like you, I’ve found these past few weeks incredibly challenging. We have all been worried about the health and welfare of our family, friends and our communities during this difficult time.  

But with birdsong seemingly louder than it has ever been, I hope nature has been as great a source of comfort and interest for you as it has been for all of us at the RSPB.  

With that in mind, I’m sure many of you will have listened to last night’s announcement and thought about when you might next head out into nature as our lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.  

Changing guidelines and our nature reserves  

For the past few weeks we’ve been working in-step with all four of the UK’s country Governments to build safe reopening plans for our amazing network of sites. We have also been listening to our employees, volunteers, the local communities in which we live and work and to you, our fantastic members and supporters. Listening to your views on what the right thing to do is and how we can make your return to RSPB reserves a safe and enjoyable experience.  

It goes without saying that we are champing at the bit to get our nature reserves back up and running for their incredible wildlife and for you all to be able to enjoy them too. But returning from lockdown will not be easy and it won’t be simple. 

  • The health and wellbeing of our employees, volunteers and all visitors to our nature reserves is our paramount concern. 
  • Walso have to make sure the wildlife that calls our sites home are ready to receive attention after a couple of months completely on their own. With reports of rare species nesting on and near busy paths, it's going to take us some time to make sure they are safe too.
  • As you will have heard we are also managing differences in approach to coming out of lockdown across the four countries of the UK, and possibly between regions too.  

Because of this, we will be taking a gradual and phased approach over the coming weeks and will only be opening individual reserves when we are absolutely confident we can do so safely.  

This will likely mean different sites reopening at different times, and with different levels of access and facilitiesIn order to avoid any disappointment, I would urge you to check our website for the latest information before making any visits.   

Resilience in uncertain times 

As I write this, I can hear a blackbird calling. Above me, swifts have now joined the swallows and are back for another summer. These are all signs that even in these turbulent times our natural world is resilient and keeps on turning.  

Thank you again for your patience – we've had some wonderful messages of support from you. We have tried to do our bit to help people connect with nature over the past few months and we are heartened that many of you have enjoyed our regular Breakfast Birdwatch and Dawn Chorus celebrationsWhile the pandemic is having a huge impact on our work and income, your brilliant support for our shared cause is a source of great strength for us all at the RSPB.  

We will continue to keep you informed about our plans, but in the meantime please continue to follow all Government advice. We look forward to welcoming you back to our reserves as soon as we can safely do so. 

Wishing you and your loved ones the very best of health.  



Update: 16th April 2020

Martin Harper, director for conservation at the RSPB said: “These have been some of the most challenging weeks in the history of the RSPB. We’ve closed our nature reserves, postponed crucial conservation work and brought home colleagues from across the world. These changes have all had a significant impact on our income.

“But when the restrictions are eventually lifted, the crisis facing nature won’t have gone away and our core mission as a charity remains as important as ever.

“Because of this, like many organisations, we are accessing the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and initially asking around almost 50% of our colleagues who can no longer fulfil their roles to take leave from their day jobs. This will enable them to focus on caring for others, learning and development or volunteering for other organisations if they are able. 

“While some of our colleagues are temporarily stood down, we are continuing as much of our important work as we are able to with the current restrictions. We are also doing our bit to try and lift the spirits of the nation through initiatives like Breakfast Birdwatch every morning.

“For the millions now in lockdown, nature is providing solace – the birds we see at our windows, and the joys brought by the arrival of spring. We believe the greatest thank you we can offer to the nature that has always sustained us through challenging times is to continue our work to protect it. That and the health and wellbeing of our brilliant staff and volunteers is guiding all of our decisions.”


Reserves update: 25th March 2020

A message from RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight

Like you, I am concerned for the health and welfare of my family, friends and the wider community during this difficult situation. So, it is with a real sadness that I must tell you that we have now closed all our nature reserves to visitors until further notice.

As many of you have told me, being in nature can be a great comfort at a time like this and I recognise that not being able to visit these cherished places will come as a blow. However, we believe that this is the best course of action at this time.

Solace in nature

Nature is all around us. Perhaps, like me, you are able to look out of your window onto trees bursting into blossom, bright white against a clear blue sky, or maybe you can hear the melodic song of blackbirds as dusk approaches.

Watching wildlife, whether from a window or a balcony or even online, can offer many of us hope, joy and a welcome distraction, and so we are keen to help you carry on connecting with the natural world.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be sharing a wealth of ideas for how to enjoy nature at home, and to provide some inspiring and fun activities for families and others. 
As a charity our mission is for everyone to enjoy a world rich in wildlife, and we hope to continue to share that richness with you during this unprecedented time.

Best wishes and good health to all from everyone at the RSPB.

Beccy Speight

Chief Executive, The RSPB


Reserves update: 24th March 2020. Urgent - statement on reserve closures

Following the latest clear instructions from the Government for us all to remain at home apart from a limited number of allowed activities, we are closing our reserves to visitors until further notice. This means we will close car parks, toilets and playgrounds to the public. These measures are on top of the existing closure of our visitor centres, cafes and shops. It is with great sadness that we ask people to refrain from visiting RSPB.

Our efforts will now move to helping the millions of people spending time at home. We are determined to do our bit to try and help connect people with the amazing wildlife to be seen in gardens or from balconies or windows, and offer some hope and joy in these difficult times.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will also be helping people to share their wildlife encounters and provide ideas for things they can do for wildlife close to home.


Reserves update: 23rd March 2020

We're currently keeping our sites open, where it is safe to do so. This includes toilets, playgrounds, hides and carparks. Some sites had to close because it has been unsafe to keep them open in terms of being able to maintain social distancing and therefore keep our staff, volunteers and the public safe. We're constantly reviewing the situation.

For us to be able to continue to keep our reserves open for you to enjoy the outdoors, we urge you to please be responsible and continue to follow government guidelines and keep a safe distance from other reserve visitors. We also ask that you stay local and only visit those places near to you to help us manage capacity, as well as limit unnecessary travel. We'll be updating any changes to the status of our reserves on our website and through social media, so please do check before you go.


Reserves update: 18th March 2020

Nature is always here for us

Following government advice, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close all our visitor centres, cafes and shops. As always, the safety and wellbeing of our visitors, staff and volunteers is our priority.

However, we know that nature can be a powerful force for good in difficult circumstances. As many of you have told us, it can lift our spirits, educate us, inspire us, and provide a space for us to exercise and enjoy fresh air.

For this reason, we intend to keep as many of our nature reserves open for as long as possible for you to enjoy, and all entry and car park charges will be waived until further notice.

Welcome signs of spring

Nature has a remarkable way of restoring calm. As I write this, I can hear songbirds calling and see a pair of blue tits in my garden getting busy nest building - clear signs of spring and of birds busying themselves in readiness to raise chicks.

Over the coming days, we’ll be updating all our reserve webpages with the latest information on where you can visit. We only ask that should you visit, please follow the latest guidance on social distancing and take care to look after yourselves and others.

I want to personally thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding during this challenging time for us all. We are so grateful for the support you provide for our work.

Best wishes and good health to all from everyone at the RSPB. Spring has sprung and we hope you’ll be able to take the opportunity to enjoy it.

With best wishes,

Beccy Speight 

Chief Executive, The RSPB

These are difficult and unsettling times for all of us but we hope that nature can provide a welcome respite in whichever form and where ever you may encounter it.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be helping people to share their wildlife encounters and provide ideas for things you can do for wildlife close to home.

Thank you for your ongoing support, patience and understanding at this challenging time.

The latest government information and advice on coronavirus can be found on the Department for Health and Social Care’s website.


16th March 2020

The RSPB is planning ahead, watching the unfolding situation and following Government advice. We are planning to ensure we can respond to a range of scenarios. Employees and volunteers are being kept up-to-date with the latest advice and information in order to ensure their health and wellbeing. 

All our nature reserves remain open, in line with government guidance. However, we advise anyone with any symptoms that may relate to COVID-19 - however mild - not to visit a RSPB reserve or event. We are reviewing the situation daily.

The latest government information and advice on coronavirus can be found on the Department for Health and Social Care’s website.

Last Updated: Thursday 28 May 2020

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