Rochester Castle

Reopening of Medway's Tourist Attractions

Medway’s set to reopen more facilities - Media Release issued 3/7/20

Heritage, hospitality and more council services are set to reopen across Medway from Saturday, 4 July.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out further changes to lockdown measures when he spoke in The Commons on 23 June.

Medway Council has continued to deliver vital services to residents throughout the pandemic and has also been able to offer some services in different ways, such as online, while restrictions were in place. 

The council has been working on plans to be able to safely reopen more of its services throughout July, in line with government guidelines and including social distancing measures.

The priority remains the safety of the public, as well as staff, and there will be a phased reopening of council heritage attractions and libraries, with reduced hours. The council will also be reopening its play parks and outdoor gyms, and wedding ceremonies and markets will also resume.

NHS Test and trace
Visitors to council attractions across Medway will be asked to supply their name, email, phone number and postcode. These details will be kept for 21 days and will be handed to the National Test and Trace system if needed, as part of the government’s response to stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives. 

Heritage attractions   
We have planned a phased reopening of our heritage attractions to enable new social distancing measures to be put in place to help protect staff and customers. New measures include limiting the number of visitors at a time and accepting card payments only. The opening hours have also been reduced and visitors are asked to check the new measures before arriving by visiting medway.gov.uk

  • Rochester Castle - Saturday, 4 July
  • Guildhall Museum - Tuesday, 7 July
  • Visitor Information Centre (including Rochester Art Gallery) – Tuesday, 7 July
  • Upnor Castle, Eastgate House, Temple Manor and Brook Pumping Station – will remain closed until further notice.

Libraries and community hubs    

There will be a phased reopening of libraries and community hubs. Four of our community hubs will be open from Monday, 6 July for book returns, and you will also be able to collect reusable recycling bags, only. Books will be returned into boxes at the front door of the community hubs, with staff behind Perspex screens. Books will then go into quarantine for 72 hours before being able to be reserved. From Monday, 13 July a new Click & Collect service will launch. Customers will be able to reserve books for collection at the reopened community hubs.

Other hub and library services will gradually reopen when it is safe to do so. The family and adults activity sessions will remain cancelled until further notice and daily parking vouchers can be purchased by contacting the Parking Services Team on 01634 333226.

  • Community hubs: Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester, Strood, Twydall and Wigmore - Monday, 6 July.
  • Libraries: Cuxton, Grain, Hempstead, Hoo, Lordswood, Luton, Rainham, Walderslade Hook Meadow, Walderslade – will remain closed until further notice.

Parks and green spaces   
Children’s play equipment and outdoor gyms in Medway’s parks and green spaces will be reopened in line with the easing of government restrictions, but residents are asked to take extra measures if they are using these facilities. Please do not eat or drink within the play area and use hand sanitiser to clean children’s hands before and after play. For the safety of everyone using the gym equipment, please also use hand sanitiser before and after use.

  • All children’s play equipment in council parks – From Saturday, 4 July
  • All council outdoor gyms in council parks and green spaces – Saturday, 4 July

Weddings   
Marriages and civil partnerships will resume at Medway Register Office, from Saturday, 4 July, with a maximum of 30 people in attendance. There will be a number of social distancing and hygiene measures in place in order to make this possible. We have been working on plans to be able to safely reopen our markets, in line with government advice. The health and wellbeing of our residents and the market traders is our top priority and council staff have worked with stall holders to put appropriate social distancing measures in place. Stalls will be spread throughout Gillingham high street and customers are asked to queue responsibly. Rochester Farmers Market, in Blue Boar Lane car park, will also have a one-way pedestrian system in place.

Markets   
We have been working on plans to be able to safely reopen our markets, in line with government advice. The health and wellbeing of our residents and the market traders is our top priority and council staff have worked with stall holders to put appropriate social distancing measures in place. Stalls will be spread throughout Gillingham high street and customers are asked to queue responsibly. Rochester Farmers Market, in Blue Boar Lane car park, will also have a one-way pedestrian system in place.

  • Gillingham Market – Monday, 6 July and Saturday, 11 July (every Monday and Saturday)
  • Rochester Farmers Market – Sunday, 19 July (third Sunday of every month).

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “I am pleased we are able reopen our doors to more of our services and facilities, giving residents more choice of things to do outdoors over the summer months.

“Medway is steeped in history, with a number of heritage attractions for the family to enjoy. Medway also has more than 100 parks and green spaces, giving residents plenty of choice for places to visit. We also have a number of library hubs which are based in the heart of communities and provide much joy to children and adults, due to the large range of books and resources available to borrow.

“Our facilities and services will be gradually reopened to allow us to put new social distancing measures in place to help protect our staff as well as the public. It’s possible that residents may have to queue to access some of our sites and venues due to the new measures, and I would ask everyone to be patient while we all adjust to a new way of life.

“It also remains important that we all play our part to protect lives and stop the spread of the virus in Medway.”

For further details on NHS Test and Trace - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/nhs-test-and-trace-if-youve-been-in-contact-with-a-person-who-has-coronavirus/

Play your part - https://www.medway.gov.uk/news/article/632/campaign_launched_to_protect_kent_and_medway

Medway's Tourist Attractions
We are so pleased to be welcoming you back!

Rochester Castle
Tuesday to Sunday - 10am to 5pm

As from Saturday, 4 July Rochester Castle will be re-opening our doors to the public.

Your safety is our top priority, and we have been working hard to make sure you, and our staff, enjoy a safe and comfortable environment.

Our new measures

  • No pre-booking required.
  • Only one group at a time will be allowed into the shop/ticket office. You will be asked to queue at the bottom of the steps, keeping 2m apart.
  • Before entering the Castle our team will ask for your name and phone number. These details will be kept for 21 days and will be handed over to the National Test and Trace system if it’s needed.
  • There are perspex screens installed at the desk.
  • We are currently only taking card payments. The card machine will be cleaned after every use. 
  • You will notice additional signage as well as staff to help you have a safe, but enjoyable visit. 
  • Handrails will be cleaned every hour and hand sanitiser will be available for use around the building. 
  • You will be invited to visit the Chapel first, before climbing the stairs to the Mural Gallery, then the Battlements before making the descent to the basement. Once you have finished your visit, you will be asked to leave via the ground floor exit.
  • As you will not be leaving through the gift shop, we ask you make any purchases of gifts or souvenirs at the start of your visit. 

Visitor numbers will be limited to three groups inside the Castle and your visit is likely to last approximately 30-45 minutes. Therefore queues may occur. Please keep this in mind and wear appropriate clothing for the weather. 

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

For more prices and more information on Rochester Castle.

Guildhall Museum
Tuesday-Saturday - 10am to 5pm 

The museum will be re-opening to the public from Tuesday, 7 July.

Your safety is our top priority, and we have been working hard to make sure you, and our staff, enjoy a safe and comfortable environment.

Our new measures

  • No prebookings – visitors will need  queue outside the museum under the collonaded area if needed.
  • Visitors will need to provide contacts details to staff on entry as part of the Governments Track and trace programme.
  • We will be restricting visits to four or five household groups at any one time.
  • We will be operating a one way system around the museum – so if  visitors want to buy gifts in the shop they need to do this at the beginning likewise with use of the toilets.
  • Toilets will be open to visitors of the museum only.
  • Visitors will be asked to wash hands on entry and exit from the keep - we will provide sanitiser for this.
  • Households will need to stay as part of one group and will be asked to wait in designated waiting areas if there is anyone else on the spiral staircase.
  • Regular cleaning regime throughout the day

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

For more prices and more information on Guildhall Museum.

Medway Visitor Information Centre 
Tuesday-Saturday - 10am to 5pm

Medway Visitor Information Centre will be reopening on Tuesday, 7 July at 10am.

In line with government advice the numbers of visitor entering the building will be restricted and visitors are advised to keep to the preferred 2m social distancing at all times.

Visitors will need to provide contacts details (name and phone number) to staff on entry as part of the Governments Track and trace programme.

Staying Covid-19 secure the centre has carried out a full risk assessment and will for the time being be offering a limited over the counter service to our visitors.  For your safety, hand-sanitiser stations are provided at the entrance point and throughout the centre, perspex screens fitted to the counter to protect our staff and visitors. Frontline staff are on hand at the centre on arrival to assist our customers.

The gift and souvenir shop has been completely redesigned, so as to create more space for browsing with one-way walking systems, plus additional signage advising visitors to not touch items unless purchasing and to maintain social distancing at all times.

The gift and souvenir shop will be accepting card and contactless payments only for purchases (no cash transactions), regional and local leaflets including Arriva bus timetables and town centre maps are available from the counter staff.  The Rochester Art gallery on the ground floor will also be open to the public and social distancing also applies for this area.

Unfortunately, for the time being a number of  services are currently not available at the centre. These include the Explore Life café, public conveniences, ATM cash withdrawals, Theatre Box Office and over the counter photocopying services. The Huguenot Museum on the first floor is currently closed, please visit their website for further details (www.huguenotmuseum.org).

Access to the centre from the 7 July will be via the High Street entrance. Rear to remain closed to help us maintain reduced visitor numbers entering and to comply with the preferred 2m social distancing requirements. 

Government's guidance for people that work in the visitor hospitality sector is available on www.gov.uk.

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