By Brendan Rees
Cranbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens has decided to close its doors to the public to help stem the spread of Coronavirus.
The gates will shut from Thursday 26 March, “until further notice” – which includes The Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.
Conservation work will continue at the gardens, however, the decision to close was for the safety of everyone as the pandemic continues, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria director and chief executive Tim Entwisle said.
“This decision was not made lightly, and we understand the important respite our green spaces offer the public at this challenging time,” he said.
“However, after careful consideration, we decided to close for the safety of our staff, visitors and the community.
“While the gates may be shut, our dedicated teams will continue to protect our precious collections of plants and pursue research and conservation critical to the long-term protection of Victoria’s biodiversity.”
Mr Entwisle said where it is possible under the current restrictions, botanists will continue their important bushfire recovery work to prevent extinction and limit species decline.
“I understand our closing will be a disappointment to many but we will do all we can to keep those beautiful landscapes, the plant collections and our natural bushland flourishing,” he said.
“In the meanwhile, we will continue to bring the joys of nature to people at home via our social media channels and new on-line initiatives. Please tune in to rbg.vic.gov.au/virtualgarden to see more.”
Mr Entwisle thanked all visitors, donors, friends, volunteers and other supporters.
Australia is now in stage two of the coronavirus restrictions with a rule of one person for every four square metres to ensure a safe physical distance – including outdoors.
Victoria has recorded its first three deaths related to Covid-19.
All were men aged in their seventies. All died in Melbourne hospitals.Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton said these are unprecedented times and everyone must take social distancing seriously.
“Sadly, Victoria has recorded the first three deaths in Victoria related to coronavirus. Our thoughts are with their loved ones at this difficult time,” Professor Sutton said.
“We’re doing everything we can to save lives and slow the spread of this deadly virus, but we all have a role to play to protect those who are most vulnerable.”