The sun is shining, the weather is sweet, there’s a bank holiday this weekend... and, no, you’re not allowed to go for a break in the UK.
Despite lockdown rules being slowly eased and responsible, socially distanced day trips from London being back on the agenda, we’re still a way off being allowed to leave our homes for an overnight stay. According to the government, right now ‘essential travel does not include visits to second homes, campsites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People must remain in their primary residence.’
‘Leaving your home – the place you live – to stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed,’ the guidance continues. ‘Premises such as hotels and bed-and-breakfasts will remain closed, except where providing accommodation for specific reasons set out in law, such as for critical workers where required for a reason relating to their work.’
However, as long as the country continues to see improvements in infection rates, we could see that changing in the next month or so. According to the government’s ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’, some hospitality ‘such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation’ might be reopened in England from July 4.
Plenty of accommodation providers around the UK, from hotels to cabins, campsites to treehouses, are looking to this early July date with optimism – as are plenty of Londoners keen to escape the city when lockdown is eventually lifted.
Over the last week, booking enquiries have more than doubled for accommodation site Sawday’s, while Canopy & Stars, which specialises in remote and off-grid stays, has seen a jump in searches for their properties too. Both of these sites are now taking new bookings from July 4, but expecting more of a lift in UK travel from August onwards.
‘We have seen a significant uplift in visits to the website and bookings over the last week,’ says Mike Bevans, MD of Canopy & Stars and Sawday’s. ‘But the confusion over exactly when and how we will be able to travel again is pushing bookings back to later in the summer. We expect to see strong and ultra-last-minute demand for UK places in August and September.’
What will we be looking for when restrictions are finally lifted? Canopy & Stars say space is one of the main things, with 70 percent of people they recently surveyed looking for self-catering and self-check-in. Also high up on our wishlists right now? Cleanliness of properties (obvs) and flexibility around booking, in case any planned holidays can’t go ahead.
Booking site Cool Camping is also poised for sleeping under canvas to be allowed from early July, but prepared for it not to happen. It’s allowing customers to book with a 20 percent deposit and then move the booking date for up to 18 months if the restrictions don’t lift as expected or are later reinstated.
There’s another factor people are taking into consideration. When UK breaks are officially allowed again, will we even be welcome? Since the government announced that day trips in England were allowed many rural residents and local councils have voiced their concern, with some strongly urging visitors to stay away.
‘We are working with the tourist boards, and local and national governments, to make sure we are aligned with their policies on preparation for visitor return,’ says Bevan, acknowledging that coastal and rural communities don’t feel able to offer an especially warm welcome at the moment.
Hopefully, by the time UK holidays and weekend breaks are allowed, we’ll all be feeling much more confident and comfortable with the change in legislation. Our fingers are firmly crossed, because after nearly 60 days inside this set-up looks pretty dreamy right now...
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