YORK Minster said it is “extremely encouraging” that so many people have visited the cathedral but added that the loss of visitor income due to its reduced capacity is an “ongoing concern.”

As part of our recently launched We’re Backing York campaign, The Press is today focusing on York Minster.

The iconic cathedral reopened for worship on July 4 and for paying visitors on July 11.

Since then, the demand for the pre-booked timed tickets has been such that from August 8, the Minster extended Friday and Saturday opening by one hour, allowing the cathedral to safely increase capacity from 500 to 700 per day.

A spokesperson for the Minster said: “It is extremely encouraging that so many visitors have come to the Minster since we reopened. However the current capacity of 700 visitors per day – is very far short of our normal capacity for this time year (approx. 1200 visitors per day last August). The loss of visitor income is therefore an ongoing concern.”

As previously reported by The Press, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a “catastrophic effect” on the Minster’s finances, the spokesperson said.

Its visitor income disappeared virtually overnight as a result of lockdown, contributing to an anticipated projected shortfall of £5.2 million against budgeted income of £9.4 million, they added.

In addition, a number of our other income generating opportunities such as tower trips and hidden Minster tours, tour groups and school groups have all been curtailed because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

In a bid to boost its finances over the coming months, the Minster will explore opportunities for income generation in line with Government and Church of England requirements for Covid security. “We are also part of Make it York/City of York’s council’s drive to promote York as a safe city that is open for business and ready to welcome residents and visitors,” the spokesperson said.

Health and safety measures introduced by the Minster in light of the coronavirus pandemic include limiting the number of people allowed inside with pre-booked timed tickets, reduced seating, a one-way system to allow people to physically distance from one another, hand sanitiser points, additional cleaning measures, compulsory wearing of masks, and staff, volunteers and clergy wearing face masks and visors to welcome visitors.