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.
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.
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.
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.
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.