A POPULAR Ellesmere Port attraction has expressed its frustration at the Government at being forced to stay closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire Oaks normally welcomes thousands of visitors each year but, like all similar attractions, was forced to shut down in March as the coronavirus lockdown took hold.

There were hopes the aquarium, home to one of the largest collection of sharks in Europe among its more than 100 displays, would be able to reopen this month as lockdown measures began to be eased.

Indeed, country parks and non-essential shops, such as those at the nearby Cheshire Oaks, have been allowed to reopen to the public.

But the aquarium was dealt a massive blow on Monday when the coronavirus legislation was altered to make it clear no aquariums across the UK were allowed to reopen. Previously, there was no mention of aquariums in the legislation, meaning it was a grey area.

The Blue Planet Aquarium is, therefore, in the same situation as Chester Zoo, which yesterday revealed it was fighting for its future as, with visitor income making up 97 per cent of its total income, it was losing £1 million a month due to the pandemic.

Now the Blue Planet Aquarium has released a statement on its Facebook page, revealing it had taken all precautionary measures necessary to ensure social distancing and people could enjoy a safe visit as possible, but the Government had, with no prior notice, forced it to stay closed.

It said: "We were very much hoping that we could welcome you back again in the coming week.

"We have all our Covid-19 secure measures in place, capacity controls, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, one-way systems and social distancing protocols throughout our underwater journey.

"However, new Government guidelines issued on Sunday without any advanced notice means that we must remain closed.

"This is very frustrating for us and seems very unfair when considering other businesses such as non-essential retail may open.

"We have huge ongoing running costs to take care of our animals and of course their welfare is our number one priority.

"We are surrounded by businesses that are already open, car showrooms, retail and fast food takeaways but we must remain closed.

"Please help us make some noise in support of all aquariums and zoos to be allowed to reopen.

"We are all ready and waiting for visitors and just need to be given the chance to reopen."