The National Trust has ramped up its coronavirus response by announcing its parks are now closed “to help restrict the spread”.

Earlier this week, the trust announced the closures of all of its stately homes, cafés and shops, including Blickling Hall in Norfolk.

However, following prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that pub, clubs, leisure centres and more would be closed, the charity took the decision to ramp up its restrictions.

The decision was made ahead of Mother’s Day, which was predicted to be a particularly busy day for the Trust - despite government advice on social distancing. Director general Hilary McGrady said: “Despite our desire to keep our outdoor spaces open, the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors has to be our top priority.

“Having observed the numbers visiting our properties today I am no longer convinced we can maintain social distancing over Mother’s Day when numbers are likely to grow, and beyond.”

Ms McGrady added that the Trust would be taking measures to ensure that people did not lose their connection with nature, and that sites of natural beauty remained open “virtually”.

“We know that people are likely to need space and fresh air in the coming weeks and months and we will do all we can to provide access wherever possible,” she said.

“Over the coming weeks our digital platforms - our website, social media feeds, podcasts and video - will become even more important, ensuring the places of nature, beauty and history that we care for on behalf of the nation can remain open for business virtually while we are temporarily closed.

“We will also be ramping up our efforts to help people connect with nature wherever they are and to find moments of joy in the world around them. “

Among the sites the Trust runs in Norfolk are the Blicking Hall and Felbrigg Hall Estates, Sheringham Park and the Blakeney National Nature Reserve.