#WeAreCLA: Rural businesses begin to re-open

As part of our #WeAreCLA campaign, Digital Media Executive, Lois Shearing, explores how CLA members are re-opening their rural businesses as more lockdown restrictions are eased.

After the government lifted some more restrictions, slightly easing the lockdown in the UK, many rural businesses have begun to re-open their doors and welcome back visitors.

  • Keep up to date with all the latest restrictions updates on our Covid-19 hub

We caught up with two CLA members who are starting up again after lockdown.

Noah’s Ark Zoo

“Here at Noah’s Ark, we are lucky to have been open since the 23rd June,” explained Emily, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Noah’s Arc Zoo in Bristol. “We’ve reduced our capacity on-site to keep an eye on numbers on-site and there’s a socially distant queuing system at our ticket office as well as online booking only to help with the flow-through ticket office.”

“We are happy to be open as lockdown meant the zoo was too quiet. It’s always nicer when there are people about and the weather has been good to us and led to a fun and safe days out for our visitors,” says Emily.

The lockdown has taken a big financial toll on the zoo, as it forced them to close for 3 months out of their 6 month peak period.

“It costs us £8000 a month just to feed our animals and we were lucky to be able to secure a grant with our bank to help us survive. We also set up our Animal Support Fund and our supporters have been incredible during these hard times.”  

The zoo has taken several steps to protect their guests, including installing ant-viral hand foam dispenser around the park, spraying high-traffic areas with disinfectant through-out the day, and switching their cafe’s and food outlets to takeaway only.

Trefusis Estate

Trefusis Estate in Cornwall is also begging to re-open their holiday lettings to the public and has seen strong demand from Brits looking to make the most of staycationing.

“Fortunately most bookings that fell during lockdown were postponed, either until the Autumn or until next year, rather than cancelled outright. Demand has also been strong, with any vacancies in high season booking up quickly, including one cancellation that was re-booked within 15 minutes!” explains Jan Trefusis, Estate Manager.

The Estate is taking extra precautions by allowing extra time for changeovers, having all housekeepers wear masks and providing disinfectant wipes and sprays in the accommodation.

Re-opening the holiday lets has also had a positive impact on other local businesses, as Trefusis Estates uses all local produce in their welcome hampers, local housekeeping and maintenance contractors, and do direct trade to local pubs and watersports businesses.

Soulton Hall

Soulton Hall decided to use some of its land to help others who were not yet able to restart their operations.

In order to support local theatres and artists the estate has constructed a temporary Shakespearian-inspired amphitheatre and put together a programme of open-air plays.

“Combining the circumstance of the existing monumental and ritual space we already had here, with the emergency that is clearly facing live performance, we decided to see if we could help. 

This exciting and positive development has already brought a number of productions to our landscape,” Soulton Hall writes on its website.

In order to maintain social distancing, each production only has a very limited number of seats, which are available here.


Want to share your experiences of how lockdown has affected your business and how you are navigating re-opening? Please email lois.shearing@cla.org.uk