A number of Northumberland’s top tourist attractions are set to close until further notice, following Government recommendations on minimising the spread of coronavirus.

However, free-to-enter sites and open spaces are set to remain open to visitors across the Tyne Valley.

English Heritage, which manages Belsay Hall and Housesteads Roman Fort, is due to close all staffed historic sites with immediate effect, meaning all public events will be cancelled.

Corbridge Roman Town, Prudhoe Castle and Birdoswald Roman Fort will also close, but free-to-enter properties elsewhere will remain open.

PR manager for English Heritage in the North and the Midlands, Kate Maughan-Brown, said: “We are trying to work out which sites we can manage and which we can’t.

“We want to help – people will need to get out and about and our free sites are a good place to socially distance and get some air.”

English Heritage chief executive, Kate Mayor, said the decision to close its sites was not an easy one, but was necessary to safeguard visitors and staff.

She said: “Our first priority is the health and wellbeing of all of our members, visitors, volunteers and staff. As a charity, we could not survive without their support, but we also have a responsibility to them.”

The National Trust, responsible for landmarks such as Wallington Hall, is also expected to close pay-for-entry sites, cafes and shops by Friday (March 20).

Where possible, gardens and parks will be open for free to encourage the public to enjoy open spaces, if appropriate, while adhering to the Government’s social distancing guidance.

Its director general, Hilary McGrady, said: “Over the coming weeks, we will do all that we can to keep on providing public benefit. While we will close our indoor areas to help fight the spread of coronavirus, we recognise that people are likely to need access to open space and to nature.”

It is not yet known the impact that site closures will have on the Northumberland tourism industry.

But Northumberland Tourism and Northumberland County Council vowed to work together to offer support and will meet to establish the estimated level of disturbance, said Jenni Meikle, the tourism board’s PR and content executive.