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Camping in a Pandemic | Your Questions Answered

After Covid-19 locked down the country and kept us all indoors, only one thing can save the British summer – and that’s camping. It's great that the country is opening up again – but we’re pretty sure the real question at the back of everyone’s mind is . . . what's the deal with camping during Covid?

With the situation changing week to week, and a return to the 'old normal' still seeming a fair distance in the future, a weekend outdoors under canvas may be a welcome balm. Thankfully, by now campsites have reopened, and here’s what we know  about the (near) future of camping in the UK.

PLEASE NOTE – all information is as given at the time of writing. Remember that much of this is subject to change.

London Campsites - Lee Valley

Can I go camping yet?

YES! The government have relaxed the rules about travel around the country, and overnight stays away from your home are now allowed. This includes campsites and caravan parks across the UK.

 

So, when did campsite open?

Campsites were allowed to open from July 4th in England, July 11th in Wales and from July 15th in Scotland. In Northern Ireland they opened as early as June 26th.

This is great news for campers - time to dust off or upgrade your gear.

Beech Estate Campsite

What about wild camping.

The rules around wild camping have always been open to some interpretation -  see our guide here. If anything, Covid-19  made the situation a little more black and white. During the initial lockdown release the government stance was that:

You and your household can head outdoors for your physical and mental wellbeing in England. But be respectful to local people and communities. You must adopt social distancing at all times. Then return to your primary home – no overnight stays, including second homes and holiday homes.

Though this has now changed, it doesn't mean that Wild Camping is any more legal in England - where most land is considered private. In Scotland Wild Camping has always been treated more leniently, but in the current situation we'd say it’s better to opt for a proper site.

 

Is it safe to go camping?

As with everything else at the moment, camping is something that needs to be risk-assessed and approached sensibly. That said, there are a number of factors that suggest camping is a fairly low-risk activity if done right.

Campsites have lots of open space and should make social distancing easy. There is also evidence to suggest that infection is much more difficult in the open air – where particles can disperse quickly. If you are cooking your own food and sleeping in your own tent, with other people within your family or close group, then there is little increased risk of catching Covid-19.

Ferrygate campsite

But what about toilets and facilities?

As with all parts of life at the moment, the pandemic will mean some changes to how things operate on site.

There have been no limitations placed on sites with shared facilities as long as they are kept 'Covid-secure'. ~This can be interpreted in several ways, and clarity han't been great on this issue, but some general common sense suggestions come to mind.

Toilet and shower blocks may require a distanced queueing system and more frequent cleaning may be put in place. Some campsites could be forced to close their facilities for sections of the day, to allow deep cleaning.

Similarly, onsite shops and caterers may make similar changes to how they serve customers, with a quota on how many people are permitted access at any one time.

Other temporary measures can include:

  • Cleaning products and hand sanitiser being made available
  • Self-check in/out
  • Increased minimum spacing between pitches
  • Staggered or ‘bookable’ shower times

The important thing is that both campers and campsite owners take their safety, and that of everyone else, seriously. If you have any doubts about the ‘covid-security’ of your chosen campsite, why not ring ahead and have a conversation with the staff about what systems they have put in place.

Cowpots campsite from above

Can I book a campsite now?

Yes! You certainly can. A lot of campsites and people in the industry have reported a huge surge in booking for July and August, and into the autumn. The rapid changes in the situation with Spain have shown how risky a foreign holiday could be, so for many camping is seen as a way to ‘save the British summer holiday.

Of course, it is worth remembering that rules and openings can change in line with the wider pandemic situation – so it’s best to check with the site or booking agent that you can cancel or transfer to future date if necessary. The majority of campsites are already offering increased flexibility with bookings and offering ‘coronavirus guarantees’.

 

What about camping abroad?

As mainland Europe and certain parts of the wider world being to open up, campsites are following suite. The issue here is not so much finding a campsite abroad, it’s the mandatory 14-day quarantine currently in place for anyone returning to the UK from certain countries. Again, the situation in Spain over the last few days shows how quickly circumstances can change.

Once things settle, though, camping on the continent may be a good way to approach a foreign holiday in the coming months.

 

With camping back on the agenda, what better time to check and repair your gear. If you find you want an upgrade or replacement, then our range of tents and equipment is second to none.

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Neil used to be a bookworm, an "indoor" type if ever there was one. After finishing a PhD he writes short stories about spooky places and odd people. Living in Switzerland, the Canadian Rockies and the north east region of the USA convinced him that there was something to be said for this whole outdoor thing. Now he runs everywhere he can, competing in races most weekends and endlessly planning the next great adventure to some far flung part of the world. Recent trips include Costa Rica, where he tried and failed to surf; Vietnam, where he almost got stuck in an underground tunnel; and back to Canada, where he came face-to-face with a bear. Watch this space for further updates on Neil's global bumblings and the occasional athletic success.

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Comments

Alun 19-06-20 09:45
Thank you to the person who wrote this article. In all of this madness of Covid-19, It has shone a light on the mystification's of what we are allowed to do and possibility of when we should to it and also what are the dangers and penalties and problems legally and to our health.
Thank you very much. Alun
Neil 19-06-20 09:53
Hi Alun,
Thanks for your message. I'm glad the blog has helped clarify some of the uncertainty. As mentioned it is important to be aware that any of these guidelines could quickly change, but this is our best understanding of the situation currently. We will update the blog if anything does change.

Meanwhile, I hope you get to go camping soon. Have a great time and stay safe.

Neil@Blacks
Stuart 19-06-20 14:44
Is it true that when campsites open soon they may not have the full facilities open such as shower blocks and loo's? With this being such a good read could you comprise a list or blog of what you could use / buy to tackle this challenge. Thank you for taking the time to put together some great facts in a way that gives hope for some form of camping this year.
#KiltedCamper
David Potts 11-07-20 10:27
Please could you update this page and include other areas of the UK?
dave partridge 13-07-20 10:48
I suggest a quick call around some the most popular campsites around the country (England), as from my experience in early July. by far the majority of sites have closed the toilet and shower blocks, and are only taking bookings for units that are self sufficient, suffice to say every camping shop has sold out of portable loo's .
Neil 15-07-20 11:12
Hi Dave,
Thanks for pointing that out. We are all trying to keep on top of an ever-changing situation here, so feedback and updates are very helpful. I will look into updating this content or potentially putting together a new blog with info on self-sufficiency at sites etc.
Meanwhile, I hope you find a site to get away to.
Best wishes,

Neil@Blacks
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