Animal lovers will soon be able to visit iconic Taronga Zoo again with the NSW Government announcing plans to reopen to the public from Monday, 1 June.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said families, animal lovers and dedicated zoo staff would be thrilled by the news, but also urged visitors to use common-sense to ensure community safety in the face of COVID-19.
“This is great news and I am sure zoos and wildlife parks right across the State will be excited to be putting out the welcome mat in coming weeks,” Mr Kean said.
“Because Taronga is predominantly outdoors, with a large amount of open space, they have the ability to ensure social distancing for visitors and staff, while still allowing everyone to enjoy the animals.”
Strict safety requirements will need to be adhered to for the re-opening, including ensuring clear physical distancing measures, adequate hand sanitiser available for staff and customers, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection.
Visitor numbers will be limited as zoos will have to comply with the 4 square metre rule per person.Other zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across NSW will also be able to re-open from June 1, providing they develop a COVID-19 safety plan that addresses measures in the NSW Health check-list.
Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said the Government would be working to ensure the zoos had adequate plans in place and did everything possible to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Zoos and wildlife parks are very experienced at managing people, and they will need to ensure patrons are aware of their responsibilities and what they need to do to have a fun and safe day,” Mr Dominello said.
“We need to slowly, surely and safely look to open NSW up again.”
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the imminent reopening was another step back from the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We are working with health authorities to allow industries to get back up and running again as we know that will help keep business in business and people in jobs,” Mr Perrottet said.
“It is vital that every step we take along the road to reopening is done with safety as a priority. Zoos and wildlife parks are well placed to be able to meet safety standards and not only provide a great day out for families but jobs for hundreds of staff.”
Mr Perrottet said the NSW Government would work with Taronga to ensure they opened safely and urged people planning a day out to check online or by phone before they visited any parks to make sure they could visit or if tickets needed to be pre-purchased.
“With the June long weekend and school holidays not far away we want to ensure they take appropriate measures to make this a success. For example, that might be only doing online tickets to control visitor numbers on busy days,” Mr Perrottet said.
Cameron Kerr, CEO, Taronga Conservation Society Australia said “Taronga Zoo is a place where guests can foster meaningful connections with wildlife and enjoy time in nature, which we know is so important for our physical and mental health.
“We are excited to be able to welcome visitors again and continue to provide that safe place for them to escape to.”
It also follows the easing of a range of restrictions including allowing cafes, pubs, clubs and restaurants to have up to 50 customers, subject to a one person per four square metre rule, and with strict social distancing guidelines from 1 June.
In a further boost to regional zoos and wildlife parks, it was announced last week that travel restrictions will also be eased from 1 June, allowing NSW residents to take a holiday anywhere in the state.
Information on health guidelines for businesses can be found at SafeWork NSW.