Self-catering companies tell Tier 3 residents their staycations must be cancelled

Emma Featherstone
·5-min read
cornwall coast - Getty
cornwall coast - Getty

UK holiday providers are asking thousands of customers to cancel or amend their bookings ahead of the stricter new tier system that comes into force in England when lockdown ends on December 2.

More than 23 million people in England will be living under Tier 3 restrictions from next week, with the tiers reviewed every fortnight.  

Accommodation providers in Tier 3 regions must close, whole those living in these areas are urged to "avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays, other than where necessary." 

However, bed and breakfasts, campsites and hotels in Tiers 1 and 2 can open for leisure bookings. Restrictions will be paused over the festive period (December 23-27), allowing Christmas "bubbles" to stay together in private rented accommodation over those five days.

People who live in Tier 3 areas of England, level 3 or higher areas of Scotland, or who had planned a stay in Wales but live elsewhere in the UK, have been contacted by glamping holiday specialist Canopy & Stars, which has informed them that bookings before December 16 cannot go ahead. 

National Trust Holidays and Holidaycottages.co.uk are also telling future guests that their bookings will not be honoured if they live in one of the highest risk areas.

An email sent from Canopy & Stars to its customers reads: "If you live in a Tier 3 area (or Tier 3, 4 or 5 in Scotland) you will no longer be able to go on your Canopy & Stars holiday. You will need to inform us if you do live in a restricted area by [December 1] and our team will be able to move your booking."

A spokesperson for the company told Telegraph Travel: "For any guests unable to travel due to a government health measure, either Tier 3, Welsh/Scottish restrictions or a positive Covid-19 test/being asked to self-isolate by Test & Trace, we are offering to change their date, or in cases where that is not possible, we can look to refund.

"Essentially, we’re not cancelling bookings until we have spoken to guests, we are contacting all guests to inform them of the situation and to advise them to check the restrictions."

National Trust Holidays is taking a similar approach. "[We] will be contacting all guests with bookings in December to discuss their options," said a spokesperson.

"Customers living in Tier 3 locations or planning to stay in Tier 3 locations are being contacted as a priority. In line with government guidance, holidays taken by people in Tier 3 will have to be postponed or cancelled. In addition, holidays due to take place in tier three locations will have to be postponed or cancelled."

This also applies to future guests of National Trust Holidays from Scotland or Wales who are affected by advisories against travel. "Where there are restrictions in place we are proactively getting in touch with our guests, we are considering both the location of their holiday and their place of residence,” its spokesperson told Telegraph Travel.

Meanwhile, Holidaycottages.co.uk, which offers self-catering properties throughout the UK, said: "All customers travelling from or to a Tier 3 area in England, or 3 or higher in Scotland, have been contacted and informed that their booking cannot go ahead."

It explained that all affected guests have been given the option to move their booking, to receive a voucher for the amount they have paid or to get a full refund.

A spokesperson added: "Holidaycottages.co.uk is not accepting any new bookings in properties under these restrictions before the Government’s planned review dates and will review its position in line with further government announcements."

Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?
Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?

However, it appears that holiday providers are preempting any official Government guidance for businesses. Accommodation providers such as bed and breakfasts and hotels have been told by the Government that they "are not expected to verify or police bookings" guests make, according to David Weston, chairman of the Bed and Breakfast Association. 

Similarly, Martin Sach, chief executive of the Holiday Home Association, the trade association that represents the self-catering holiday industry, told Telegraph Travel that at the time of writing "no guidance or legislation has been published by the Government so, as so often before, we are guessing about what the actual rules may be".

He said that with regards to past Covid restrictions there has been a difference between what the regulations say and what the guidance advises.

"This can lead to differences of opinion between people who feel obliged to follow the guidance, which isn’t binding in law, and the owners who rightly consider that the holiday is not prohibited by law and can therefore take place," he added.

Thus far, hotels groups do not appear to be policing guests’ bookings according to which tier they are travelling from. 

A spokesperson from The Pig Group told Telegraph Travel of the guidance against non-essential travel out of Tier 3: "I don’t believe it’s the responsibility of operators to police this rule, we have enough to contend with without worrying about where guests have travelled from."

Those who have a UK holiday booked in the coming weeks should look at both the tier of their local area and that of the area they are travelling to for guidance on travel. See our guide to what the tier system means for your holidays and find out which areas fall under which tier.