Boris Johnson’s unveiling of England’s “roadmap” out of lockdown finally gave some clarity as to when travel might become possible again.
Key dates were mentioned in April and May, and although Easter holidays are off the table, domestic trips might be possible shortly after.
“Self-contained” accommodation was specifically mentioned, but what does that mean for campsites and caravan parks? Here’s what we know so far.
When might campsites and caravan parks reopen?
It depends on the site. The earliest date that holiday accommodation might reopen in England is 12 April – but that only applies to “self-contained accommodation”. Campsites and caravan parks should be able to reopen from this date too (unless the roadmap changes in the interim), but only if holidaymakers aren’t sharing indoor facilities with other households. Sites that do have shared facilities will have to remain shut until at least 17 May, along with hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation offerings.
At the beginning, holidaying will also only be permissible with members of one household – so you won’t be able to pitch up and share a tent with people you don’t live with.
Holidaymakers are also being urged to check with their accommodation providers for precise reopening dates before booking.
Should I book now?
Campsites.co.uk, which works with more than 3,000 camping and glamping sites across the UK, has reported a big increase in bookings following the government's roadmap announcement.
Traffic and bookings surged immediately after the announcement according to founder Martin Smith: website visits are 250 per cent higher than normal levels for this time of year while bookings and enquiries are more than 300 per cent higher.
Summer availability is already getting tight in popular areas such as Cornwall – so it might be worth booking sooner rather than later for a summer holiday, while checking whether your accommodation provider offers any kind of flexible booking policy (just in case things don’t go to plan).
What about holiday homes and cottages?
Most holiday homes and cottages fall squarely under the “self-contained accommodation” bracket, so should be able to open in England from 12 April at the earliest.
There is some indication that bookings were on the rise even prior to the government’s roadmap announcement. Malcolm Bell, chief executive of tourism authority Visit Cornwall, said in January: “We are looking at a boom year, with a combination of postponed bookings from 2020 and early bookings for this summer. For some accommodation businesses, reservations are currently over 100 per cent up year-on-year; that doesn’t mean that they’re full, just that they’re far ahead of where they would usually be in a typical January.
“Overall, I’d say advance bookings for most hotels, guesthouses and self-catering are around 30 to 50 per cent higher than usual for this time of year.”
Can Center Parcs reopen?
Despite the fact that most Center Parcs resorts have various shared indoor facilities, the company has announced that it plans to have all five sites open from 12 April.
Restrictions will be in place however, with a limit of one household per lodge, restaurants only available for delivery service, and the continued closure of hotels and apartments on site.
A spokesperson for Center Parcs said: “Following the government announcement on their roadmap for reopening society over the coming weeks and months, we are planning to reopen our UK villages and welcome our guests back from 12 April.
“We are planning for this date and working through the detail to understand exactly what this means for breaks from 12 April onwards.
“Please note that any plans are subject to government giving the go ahead to move to this next step of their roadmap, which they intend to confirm by the 5 April.”
Most outdoor activities will be able to go ahead, according to the brand, but it remains uncertain whether the “Subtropical Swimming Paradise” waterparks will be able to open.
What about in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
The devolved nations will be taking their own approaches. While Wales’ timeline is likely to be similar or even more optimistic than England’s, with self-contained holidays possibly on the cards by Easter, Scotland sounds as if it will be more cautious. Plans to reopen the economy won’t be realised until at least the last week of April.
Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, previously said: “We are likely to advise against booking Easter holidays, either overseas or within Scotland, as it is highly unlikely that we will have been able to fully open hotels or self catering accommodation by then.
“However, for the summer, while it is still highly unlikely that overseas holidays will be possible or advisable, staycations might be – but this will depend on the data nearer the time.”
The Northern Ireland Executive will publish its “pathway-to-recovery” plan on 1 March.