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Coronavirus travel advice for campers

Thinking of going camping this summer? Or maybe a family glamping holiday? In the era of coronavirus (Covid-19) it's important to plan your holiday accordingly and consider your safety before you book a trip. To help you find the information you need, we’ve put together this comprehensive travel advice for campers, so that you can plan with confidence and return to the world of camping as soon as it's safe to do so.

Our absolute priority at Cool Camping is the health of campers, campsite owners and society as a whole. It’s important that we all work together to keep everyone safe and well. We’re doing our utmost to ensure the information below is as up-to-date as possible but do refer to the UK government website for further guidance.

This page was last updated on 24th February 2021.

Am I allowed to go camping in the UK at the moment?

ENGLAND: No. Camping and glamping is not currently permitted in England, following the government's announcement on 4th January. Holidays are not currently permitted in England and people are advised to stay at home except for essential purposes. More information on what you can and cannot do in England can be found here.

WALES: No. As of 20th December, Wales has moved to alert level four and all hospitality and accommodation businesses must close to holidaymakers. Further information on alert level four and what you can and cannot do can be found here.

SCOTLAND: No. Camping and glamping holidays, including wild camping, are not currently permitted in Scotland. As of 5th January, it is a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential reasons. Further information on what you can and cannot do are available here.

NORTHERN IRELAND: No. Camping and glamping holidays are not permitted in Northern Ireland at the moment. Accommodation can be provided for those already resident; for work-related purposes; for vulnerable people; for those in emergency situations; and people unable to return to their main address. More information can be found here.

When will I be able to go camping again in the UK?

England: Accommodation with self-contained facilities may be permitted to re-open from no earlier than 12th April, subject to the state of the pandemic at the time. However, this is only for individuals or individual household groups. Accommodation with shared facilities (such as most campsites), plus other hospitality and tourism venues may be allowed to open from no earlier than 17th May, with a limit of up to six people or two households holidaying together. More information can be found on the gov website here.

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Wales: At this stage we do not know. Projected dates have not yet been given and we are awaiting further information. The next review of the situation will be on 12th March.

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Scotland: Projected dates for camping and glamping sites have not yet been provided. While hospitality venues may be permitted to open from 26th April, holiday accommodation, including hotels and self-catering venues, was not specifically mentioned during Nicola Sturgeon's roadmap announcement on 23rd February and the roadmap only leads Scotland back to a 'Levels' system, rather than a complete easing of all restrictions. It is not yet clear, therefore, what future rules will be for different areas of Scotland and when camping and glamping sites will be able to re-open. On 16th February, however, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, told MSPs that, "by the summer" staycations might be possible, but it will depend on the coronavirus data.

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Northern Ireland: At this stage we do not know. The majority of existing restrictions have been extended to 1st April. What restrictions are eased after this date and when, is not yet known and we await further information.

What about wild camping?

Wild camping is not currently permitted in any part of the UK. By law, you should minimise the amount of time you spend outside your home and, while exercise is permitted, this should not include staying overnight outside of your primary residence. More information on wild camping during the pandemic can be found here.

I'm unable to go on the March holiday I booked due to lockdown measures. What should I do?

If, due to current lockdown measures, you cannot take the holiday you planned, then you will need to contact the campsite in order to rearrange your booking. Their contact details are provided in your booking confirmation email. If you booked with our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee you will be able to re-book your stay up until the end of 2021. If you did not book with our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, you should check the cancellation terms under which you booked (these will be displayed in your booking confirmation email) and discuss your arrangements with the campsite directly.

What happens if I book a holiday for later this year, but, when the time comes, a lockdown prevents me from travelling?

The outlook for summer 2021 remains positive and the roll out of vaccines means that we are extremely hopeful holidaymakers in the UK will be able to go camping this summer. We appreciate, however, that there is still a degree of uncertainty and, as such, still a risk that holiday restrictions or local lockdowns may affect your plans at the last minute. For this reason, we offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, which ensures you only have to pay a 30% deposit when you make your reservation. The remaining balance will not be due until 30 days before your holiday starts, ensuring you know the lay of the land before you spend the full amount of money. Every campsite and glamping site offering this policy is very clearly marked on our website, so you can book with total confidence. If a campsite does not offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, you will need to read their independent cancellation policy, which will be displayed when you start to make a booking.

What happens if I’ve booked a camping holiday but, when the time comes, I’m ill or need to self isolate?

We understand that, even after a holiday is booked in good faith, you may still find you are unable to take your holiday due to the coronavirus – for example, if you fall ill or if a member of your household falls ill and you have to self isolate. For this reason, we offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, which ensures you only pay a 30% deposit when you make a reservation and the remaining balance isn’t due until 30 days before your holiday starts. If you find that you’re unable to take your holiday due to coronavirus, you’ll be able to move your holiday by up until the end of 2021 to provide the maximum flexibility. Every campsite and glamping site offering this guarantee is very clearly marked on our website, so you can book with total confidence. If a campsite does not offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, you will need to read their independent cancellation policy, which will be displayed when you start to make a booking.

How do I know if a campsite is part of the Cool Camping Coronavirus Booking Guarantee?

Any campsite or glamping site that offers our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee will be clearly marked in searches with a red tick icon. On our campsite review pages, sites with the guarantee are clearly marked with a red banner. You will also be shown the guarantee when you begin to finalise your booking details. Please note, while we recommend hundreds of campsites on coolcamping.com, not all of them offer our guarantee so do look out for these icons for our safest booking recommendations. For a comprehensive collection, you can find all of the campsites that offer the guarantee here.

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Will I have to wear a face mask when I go camping?

It's uncertain what the rules will be by summer 2021, as policies continue to adapt as the pandemic develops. However, we can reflect on the rules from summer 2020.

Based on the existing guidelines, you won't be expected to wear a face covering while camping, such as around your tent, around the campfire or outdoors for example. But you might be required to wear a face covering in indoor settings and in circumstances where it is difficult to easily social distance from others. This means that you should wear a face covering when inside washblock buildings, campsite shops, reception buildings and indoor communal areas. It's also worth keeping a face covering in your pocket when leaving the campsite and heading out to explore – you never know if you'll want to pop into a shop or café to buy something and you might need to wear face coverings in those settings this summer too.

What safety measures do campsites have in place?

Campsites in the UK will only be allowed to open if they comply with the ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines published by the government in 2020. These have been published in all nations, including in England and comprehensive Tourism and Hospitality Guidance in Scotland, to which businesses should adhere. It's unclear whether these will be extensively updated for 2021 but we can base our answer on the current guidelines from 2020.

To help you find out what these measures mean for you, we put together a blog in July 2020, what are the new coronavirus guidelines? And what do they mean for campers?, though bear in mind that guidelines are regularly updated, so things may still have changed slightly by summer 2021.

Even before these ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines were released, many campsite owners were already looking at existing social-distancing and cleaning advice and working hard to prepare, so measures really have been months in the making. Many campsites, for example, reduced the number of campers they accepted this summer, allowing for more space for all guests, and invested in new facilities to minimise the amount of sharing. Some campsites have introduced booked time slots for using the showers, whilst many are offering contactless check in when you arrive in order to maintain social distancing. Do bear in mind when booking a holiday, too, that some shared facilities, such as cafés or swimming pools, might not be operating in the usual way or may be closed altogether. You can find a collection of campsites with specific social distancing measures in place here.

Will you be refunding the VAT on bookings?

From 15th July 2020, the government reduced the rate of VAT on the hospitality industry. At Cool Camping we recommend hundreds of independent camping and glamping sites, but each determine their own prices and discounts, as well as their refund policies. Any refunds given should be issued by the campsite. Many of the small, independent campsites we represent do not meet the threshold for VAT and are therefore not VAT registered. As a result, most bookings on coolcamping.com will not have had VAT added. For further information, you can read our full statement on VAT refunds here.

Can I go on a camping holiday in France and Europe?

Not right now, no. Travelling abroad for leisure reasons (i.e. going on holiday) is currently illegal in the UK and you will be asked at ports and airports why you are travelling. Those without a valid reason will be turned away. Campsites in France are currently closed and current restrictions mean that, if you travel to France, you will be required to quarantine in government-provided accommodation (such as hotels) for 10 days.

It is not yet clear when these restrictions will change. With vaccines now being administered in the UK, the outlook for this coming summer remains relatively positive, helped too by improved summer weather. We are currently taking bookings for summer holidays in France on coolcamping.com and many campsites choose to offer our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee to provided added security for campers.

The UK government's Foreign Travel Advice pages are the most reliable source of information regarding whether or not you should travel to other countries. In particular, their travel advice for France can be found here.

Should I buy travel insurance?

Yes. We always recommend that you have comprehensive travel insurance for any holiday you take. We recommend you take out a policy which covers you in the event of cancellation, even if you book a holiday with our Coronavirus Booking Guarantee. This will provide extra cover in circumstances where you have to cancel due to reasons not related to Coronavirus too. For foreign holidays, we recommend you take out a policy that has good medical coverage for international trips. Please contact your insurer directly if you have questions about what they cover.