I have recently been in contact with colleagues from the European Botanic Gardens Consortium and they have provided a few updates on the situation in their countries and gardens as some countries start to come out of lock-down. I have collated these below as I feel they may be of interest to others
Austria - In Vienna our garden has been open to the public again since mid-April, and we have installed two independent teams to manage the collections (which works fine so far). At the University, we are still working in home-office, with the option that lab-work might start next week again. It is still uncertain whether we will have course/exams with physical presence this summer term at all.
Bulgaria - Our gardens opened for visitors on the 14th of May. The staff haven’t stopped working.
Croatia – Zagreb garden is planning to open next week. Our collections were managed by only a few people who were able to travel to work during the Covid restrictions, but now we are trying to compensate for the lost time. Our situation is also difficult because of the Zagreb earthquake that caused lots of damage and financial problems.
Czech Republic – The situation in Prague is stabilized and everything is slowly going back to normal life. We are open for visitors for the third week and of course this is highly welcomed by people, with each week, 5-10 thousand visitors in the garden - luckily we are big enough for such numbers. Plus some income, which is also a good stimulus to cover losses from the previous period. Greenhouses are going to be opened from 25th of May. We are almost fully working in the garden again, gardeners just with one from each section at home as a kind of secure person in case of infection and quarantine. What I have found as very positive, that most of the staff were looking forward to being back in the garden.
Estonia - The restrictions have become easier this week. In Tallinn we have provided an outdoor walking opportunity in our garden during all this period, but now, starting from yesterday the outdoor areas are opened with tickets as the summer and the high season is almost here. It is not quite certain if we can open also the greenhouses yet. But it is agreed that until the end of August people must follow limited movement rules everywhere.
France - The 4 botanic gardens of the National Museum of Natural History are still completely closed to the public. The de-lockdown process has started timidly, but with only 20% of staff allowed to work on site. - In Paris a handful of museums are reopening on strict and highly controlled regulations.
Greece - We are working at home and at the office but the garden is closed and I don’t think it will open for visits.
Italy - all sites are still closed in Italy, some might open progressively next week depending on the region, if they meet the required standards that will be issued this week. All events and tours are naturally cancelled and greenhouse access will probably not be possible. It is likely that each garden will have to set a maximum number of visitors allowed in at the same time, considering the size of each garden.
Norway - Our University is still closed down, and just a few people are at work (typically students). All people are advised to use their local nature and go out to get exercise and get fresh air. The schools are doing mostly outdoor classes as well, often in parks and botanical gardens. That means that most Norwegian gardens have to be open (only Oslo is closed), but most gardeners are at home (and the toilets closed). So, we get a situation that the gardens have record numbers of visitors, but we are not there. Maintenance is very low with no planting or production of new plants. A bit of a strange situation for us.
Poland – at the University in Poznan we are partially open, after 3.pm. on weekdays and all day at the weekends.
Portugal - Azores - Our garden will reopen to the public next Monday with 2 separate teams for public attendance and gardening. Technical staff will also restart in public buildings. As we keep a good number of interventions in natural areas, operational workers will also restart field work. All with the necessary sanitary restrictions. Vehicle disinfection is part of the protocol but keeping individual use of disinfected hand tools, is of course very much depending on individual responsibility. Regional government will be distributing personal protection gloves and masks on a daily basis to all public workers as well as disinfectant fluid. Fortunately, the situation is completely controlled in the island. In the 3 islands where no cases were identified, schools have re-opened and life is returning to normality. Travelling between islands is still very restricted and to the mainland only with very special and strong reasons. Impossible to travel abroad and to receive tourism so far which makes our perspectives for visitors this year very low. It feels like we are cruising the ocean in a floating fortress.
Slovenia - we closed the Garden to the public on 13 March. But most of us work inside the Garden, we have done some renovation and tree checking. On 28 April we opened again the Garden to public, including the greenhouse. Because of the small staff and no students work or volunteers allowed to help, we had a problem to be open in all location, so one glasshouse is still closed. In the greenhouse masks must be used. After reopening the number of visitors really increased, because all schools and Universities up to now are closed.
Spain - Here, in our autonomous community of Madrid we are still at home and only essential works are developing at the garden, but I suppose that we will return soon, maybe in June.
UK - National Botanic Garden of Wales - has been closed since March 23rd, and whilst we are preparing plans for re-opening to the public, we have no real idea of when that will be.