Coronavirus has kept the nation indoors for what seems like an eternity, but better days are on the horizon.
As we head into spring and summer, staycations remain the most feasible holiday option. You’re probably desperate to dust off the tent and get camping again, even if it's likely to be a slightly different experience compared to years gone by.
While life as a whole won’t be totally ‘normal’ for some time yet, things are looking up for UK campers now that campsites have been given the greenlight to welcome back customers this spring.
PLEASE NOTE – all information is as given at the time of writing. Please refer to government guidance and check before you travel.
Can I go camping yet?
Great news! Campsites and self-catering holiday parks in England have been granted permission to open from 12 April. Scottish holidays won't be allowed until at least 26 April. The Welsh government is yet to provide planned reopening dates for campsites and caravan parks, but an update is expected before the end of March.
However, it's important to understand that the use shared facilities such as toilets and washrooms is not permitted 17 May, so tent camping will likely be delayed until then as a result.
Of course, all these plans are subject to change in accordance with public health developments regarding COVID-19. Our advice is to plan for the best, but be prepared for changes and check your destination's cancellation policy before booking.
What about wild camping?
At the beginning of April, nationwide 'stay at home' orders are set to end, paving the way for non-essential travel within the UK. However, there is no specific advice regarding wild camping. As such, we strongly recommend that you delay your wild camping plans until at least 12 April, when domestic holiday rules are relaxed.
Regardless of COVID restrictions, you need to remember that there are well established rules on where and how you can wild camp in the UK. Do your research before you travel.
Will it be safe to go camping?
It’s hard to guarantee anything in the current situation, but health risks can certainly be avoided by taking the relevant precautions when camping. And as it is a predominantly outdoor activity, camping is likely to be safer than a lot of alternatives. Evidence suggests that the virus is far less likely to spread in open-air environments and it’s pretty easy to socially distance on a campsite.
But what about toilets and other campsite facilities?
Campsites will not be able to operate shared facilities until at least 17 May, even then, their use is very much dependent on whether social distancing rules can be observed. We recommend that you check with your preferred campsite on what they are putting in place when they open before you book or travel.
Site management need to ensure regular and effective cleaning. If campsites do keep facilities open, it's likely that toilet and shower blocks will be used on rota systems and temporarily closed for deep cleaning during parts of the day. There have been no special limitation on shared spaces on campsites, so common sense and personal responsibility are important. If you have doubts, call ahead and enquire what measures the site is putting in place.
Shops and onsite catering premises will probably also be forced to operate differently for a while.
- Cleaning products and hand sanitiser being made available
- Self-check in/out
- Increased minimum spacing between pitches
- Staggered or ‘bookable’ shower times
Whatever rules are in place, it’s important to do everything you can to stay safe. If you have any concerns, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with campsite staff to ask about their specific plans.
Can I book a campsite now?
Yes! Many campsites have been taking bookings for several months now. With imminent relaxations to government guidelines, it’s likely that campsite bookings will surge, so it's a good idea to book your trip as soon as possible.
We suggest that you check booking terms and cancellation policies to make sure that you’re covered if circumstances change.
What about camping abroad?
Non-essential international travel will continue to be restricted until 17 May. Even once travel bans are lifted, there may be various quarantine policies to negotiate depending on the country that you're visiting.
We recommend checking the latest government guidance before booking.
Although camping abroad will no doubt become a whole lot easier in the coming months, it’s probably best to stay in the UK for now.
Your next camping trip is closer than ever – make sure you’re ready by upgrading your gear today.