Camping in a Pandemic | Your Questions Answered

It's great to see the country 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 and a new roadmap put in place, the return to the 'old normal' feels so close, a weekend outdoors under canvas may be a welcome balm.  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! For Step 2 that was on April 12th Self-contained accommodation where indoor facilities are not shared are now open which means campsites can reopen, just be aware that shared toilet and shower facilities will be closed until further restrictions are lifted. Take a look at our Facility Free Camping Guide for how to camp comfortably without a shower block or toilets.  


So, when do campsites open?

Campsites have been open since April 12th in England, Wales from the 27th March you can stay in self-contained accommodation, Campsites are said to be fully open from the 17th May and since 12th April people outside Wales can enter. In Scotland, camping holidays will be allowed to reopen from the 26th April and on the same date people outside Scotland are allowed to enter the country, In Northern Ireland, currently, it is predicted that from the 30th April self contained accommodation will be permitted for one household only. 

Beech Estate Campsite

What about wild camping.

The rules around wild camping have always been open to some interpretation -  see our guide here.  From 12th April in England and Wales, you will able to wild camp. Wild camping will then be allowed in Scotland on 26th April.

However, this 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.

From 17th May in England Wales and Scotland there will be 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 hasn't been great on this issue, but some general common sense suggestions come to mind. Similar restrictions will be lifted in N.Ireland by 24th May

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. 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?

Currently travel abroad is prohibited to prevent the spread of covid varients. There is currently no information about when foreign travel will be allowed again. 

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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