24 February 2021

Owner of Downton Abbey stately home hits out at coronavirus road map

24 February 2021

The owner of the stately home used in Downton Abbey has hit out at the Government’s “catastrophic” road map for easing coronavirus restrictions.

The Countess of Carnarvon questioned why Highclere Castle in Berkshire would not be able to open its doors to visitors until May 17 at the earliest under the timetable set out by Boris Johnson.

She claimed there is “inconsistency” in the approach because indoor shopping could be allowed from April 12.

Lady Carnarvon told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “Why is it more dangerous to walk round Highclere Castle, with 400 metres of one-way tour with people spaced, than it is to go round a department store, I don’t understand it.

Highclere Castle – Berkshire (PA Archive)

“We have all got sensible protections, we are all part of the economy, we all buy fish, food, we all support the supply chains, which is what some of the British farming and fishing industry is struggling with.

“It’s the same with pubs – is it more dangerous to go and have a massage or is it more dangerous to go into a pub?

“Of course we are proud of the NHS, we all are, everybody in this country, that’s not in question.

“But you can see how the infections are going down and the deaths, thank goodness, are going down.”

The road map includes a five-week gap between its four steps to allow the impact of relaxations to be measured to see whether there is an increase in infections which could put unsustainable pressure on the health service.

While shops, outdoor hospitality and personal care services can resume on April 12 at the earliest, indoor entertainment venues will have to wait another five weeks.

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