Camping During COVID-19: What To Expect

The 2021 camping season has almost arrived and most avid campers are eagerly awaiting news on when they will be able to get on the road and pitch up tents or caravans at their favourite spots. 

If you are looking to go camping during the 2021 camping season, it’s likely that your trip will be subject to some extra restrictions and considerations in order to keep your family and other campers safe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The advice from the UK government and the devolved administrations is changing all the time, but this article aims to cover some general points about how most campsites are approaching coronavirus provisions and what to expect. 

Key Points For Camping During COVID-19

  • Camping open from 12th April in the UK
  • Contactless check-in
  • No mixed groups – households only
  • Campers to provide their own toilet facilities
  • No shared amenities until at least 17th May
  • Social distancing on-sitestick to your pitch
  • No visitors
  • NHS Track and Trace check-in may be required
  • Kids playgrounds and other facilities such as indoor Pools likely to remain closed

When Will UK Camping Start After COVID-19? 

As it stands today (12th March 2021), campsites in England are hoping to open from the 12th of April. In Scotland, campsites will reopen on the 26th of April and Wales and Northern Ireland campsites will welcome visitors back from the 1st of April. 

It’s worth noting that these are the earliest dates that campsites are expected to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic, and bookings should be made under the warning that dates are likely to change. 

There has been a lot of discussion in the tent camping world with regards to pitch fee increases due to COVID-19 and this is likely to be an issue we’re going to see more of. While most UK campsite pitch fees are around £20 – £25 per night, it’s likely that we’ll see that price go up -for at least the 2021 season- with a conservative estimate of around £30 – £40 per pitch per night being likely.

Will Shared Facilities Be Open On Campsites This Year?

For the 2021 camping season, it’s unlikely that all shared facilities will be open, due to the risk of transmission from COVID-19.

Many smaller sites have said that they intend to keep all shared facilities (toilets, showers, washing up, etc) closed throughout the entire season.

The Camping and Caravan Club have released a statement to say that they will not be opening toilet blocks, to begin with, but washing up facilities will remain open. Other on-site shared facilities such as shops, laundry rooms, kitchens, and clubhouses will remain closed on most campsites across the UK until further notice.

Tent campers are encouraged to bring their own toilet and washing facilities with them and The Camping and Caravanning Club have stated that all pitches will be able to include a private toilet tent as part of their booking should they wish to.

Most campsites are requesting that tent campers bring their own chemical toilet that can be emptied at a chemical toilet disposal point (Elsan point) with them, rather than makeshift toilet setups.

It is worth calling your chosen campsite in advance, as there is a lot of interpretation of the laws and guidelines meaning that many campsites will have their own rules for tent campers in order to keep everyone safe. 

Some sites will be keeping their shower blocks closed until all of the restrictions are lifted (21st June is the earliest likely date in England), but other sites are operating on a time slot booking system to comply with social distancing rules.

Social Distancing On Campsites During COVID-19

How campsites tackle the need for social Distancing on site is going to change as the restrictions are lifted across the UK.

At the beginning of the season, most campsites will be opening at half capacity to ensure a 6m space between pitches. It’s hoped that after the last of the coronavirus camping restrictions are lifted (hopefully 21st June), campsites will open at full capacity again with room for more campers.

Of the campsite owners that I spoke with, most are using some kind of pitch marking to help visitors ensure they are being socially distanced from other guests.

Pitch markings can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, including differently mown grass, grass paint, and even physical markers such as pegs and fences.

Marked pitches help campers to keep to their own space, which means it may not be possible to have visitors on your pitch, and you may need to ensure that you don’t cross anyone else’s pitch on your camping trip in order to maintain social distancing.

For many campsite owners, the concern over the fairly loose interpretation of guidelines will be very real, even after the world has opened up fully. No one wants to become a test case or to be part of a media storm, least of all small independent campsites.

As the UK roadmap out of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions sits currently, sports and leisure facilities will be able to open from 29th March, but this will not include overnight stays and especially overnight stays of mixed households.

From the 12th of April, many UK campsites will be reopening after the coronavirus pandemic, but they will only be welcoming single-family households who live together normally, rather than groups of relatives or friends.

How Can I Check Into My Campsite During COVID? 

Each campsite will be handling check-in differently, but for most, they will be aiming to keep it as contact-free as possible using car number plates, booked pitch numbers, and contactless payment options.

Having spoken to lots of campsite owners, nearly every site is planning to be part of the NHS Test and Trace app check-in, and all campsites that I have spoken with are planning to make it mandatory for guests to agree with their contact details being shared with Track and Trace should there be a positive case of COVID-19 detected at their campsite.

Not many campsites will be offering any kind of testing service, but expect that some will be carrying at temperature checks and asking guests not to come to the site if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19. 

It remains to be seen as to whether the hospitality industry, in general, will be requiring some kind of ‘vaccine passport’, but this is unlikely for UK campsites

Niki Younie

Camping lover since birth particularly enjoys chilly sunsets in the grounds of historic castles and fresh sunrises at sacred places.

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