Sarah’s Post-Lockdown Leeds Walking Tours
6th August 2020
Sarah Cowling, from Leeds Walking Tours, tells us how she’s excited to once again be taking people round the city on tours and how it works in a post-lockdown world…
By early 2020, our weekly Leeds Highlights Walking Tours were starting to attract the visitors. We began running our tours in June 2019. Slow and steady progress meant we numbered the high teens of guests on the cold February days, braving Storm Dennis (remember that?) It seems a long, long time ago now. Our last pre-covid tour, with a lovely group of people, was on Saturday 14th March. After that, we decided to refund and fully cancel all our tours for a month – surely we’d be back to normal by Easter?
Finally, on 4th July, the Government guidelines advised that Tourist Guides could begin to come out of lockdown. Our first job was to apply for the Visit England for the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark. This involved us looking at every aspect of the tour, ensuring it conformed to Government, public health and industry body standards and carrying out a Covid-19 risk assessment.
For us, this meant reducing numbers. A maximum of 6 people were allowed to gather in outside spaces. We also had to look at our tour route and ensure that our tour was fully ‘outside’.
This meant no toilet break at the Art Gallery and a sneaky peak at the amazing Tiled Café, not to mention stunning works of art by Barbara Hepworth, Anthony Gormley and Damien Hirst. Previously, at the end of the tour, many guest’s first question was ‘How do I get back to the Tiled Café and Art Gallery?’ They had been tempted to return by the sumptuous surroundings, appetising and delicious lunchtime treats and the lure of the outstanding collections at the Gallery.
(Outside Kirkgate Market, Credit Visit Leeds)
Other changes to the Tour meant no guiding in the jaw-dropping County Arcade, no weaving our way through the hub-bub of Kirkgate Market and no surprise and delight as we walked up the steps of the Corn Exchange to reveal the unexpected interior. The simple solution to that is to pre-guide these highlights outside, pointing out the ‘things to look out for’ by means of an iPad and inviting guests to either don their masks and walk through in a socially distanced manner, or, suggest they come back independently and visit in a way they feel safe. This has worked for our visitors so far and all have decided what measures they feel safe and happy with – masks are a must and hand sanitiser essential on the way in though!
For now, we are allowed to guide up to 30 people as per the revised government guidelines issued on 23rd July. We cap our tours at 25 to ensure that everyone receives the best possible experience. Our number have risen again with wonderful pioneer domestic visitors to our city.
Join us, every Saturday morning, 11am at the Black Prince Statue, City Square. We would love to see you and welcome you to our socially distanced Highlights of Leeds Tour. We really are ‘Good to Go”
07956 636 980