Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park in Padstow, Cornwall, has asked guests to volunteer to help clean toilet blocks after staff were told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app. The Park sent an email titled “Dunkirk Spirit” and said if guests were not prepared to help they might have to cancel bookings.
Owner Patrick Langmaid, 56, says he had no choice but to ask guests to help out due to “desperate times”.
Mr Langmaid said: “I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s holiday, I am genuinely exploring all means to keep the business open while healthy people are still being told to isolate.
“Two out of my 27 members of staff have been pinged from the app. One was pinged because her partner had tested positive and quite rightly isolated. The second received a ping, and was provided with the PCR tests from us. It came back negative as did the several lateral flow tests.
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One disgruntled holidaymaker said: “They use guilt tripping language almost likening this situation to Dunkirk. I can’t believe a holiday might be cancelled if I don’t want to spend my time cleaning the communal toilets. It’s just horrifically inappropriate to ask paying customers to scrub away.”
Mr Langmaid has assured guests that if he is forced to cancel holidays then a full refund will be made but warned that holidaymakers won’t be able to rearrange dates.
Camping and caravan holidays have been sorely missed by many but from today they can be enjoyed once again. The Government’s travel advice for England states that from April 12: “Self-contained holiday accommodation may reopen. “This is accommodation in which facilities are restricted to exclusive use of a single household/support bubble.
“Such facilities include: kitchens, sleeping areas, bathrooms and indoor communal areas such as: lounges, sitting areas and any lifts, staircases or internal corridors for entry and exit into the accommodation.”
Guidance has previously caused confusion.
It was previously suggested that camping and caravan sites with shared toilet facilities could not open.
However, this is not the case. Dan Yates, founder of outdoor accommodation site Pitchup.com, said: “With at least three different versions of the rules in circulation, further confusion was created by DCMS [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] guidance that ‘no household mixing’ was allowed in shared toilet blocks (effectively closing the typical campsite).
“However, updated guidance issued on Thursday, April 9 makes it clear that toilets can open as shared facilities.
“Similar confusion had applied to receptions, facilities for laundering clothes, baby changing rooms, breastfeeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points, all of which can also now open as shared facilities.”
This is great news for many camping sites and caravan parks that can open.
“This means some campsites may now be able to reopen for the critical early May bank holiday, recouping some of the income lost from missing Easter and all three bank holidays last spring,” said Yates.
Camping and caravan holidays are undeniably soaring in popularity.
Over the last month, UK bookings via Pitchup.com have surged by 139 percent for arrivals between April and the end of September, against the same period in 2019.
So what are the rules for the UK? The camping platform clarified details today:
The updated guidance for England clarifies that receptions, facilities for laundering clothes, public toilets, baby changing rooms, breastfeeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points are not subject to the “no household mixing” rule, meaning that camping and caravanning sites providing these can reopen as of today.
‘Self-contained accommodation’, which can open from today, includes those where facilities including kitchens, sleeping areas, bathrooms and indoor communal areas such as lounges, stairs and corridors are restricted to the exclusive use of a single household or support bubble.
However, indoor public toilets, baby changing rooms, breastfeeding rooms, and facilities for laundering clothes do not count as indoor communal areas.
Instead, these areas are allowed to reopen for shared use but should be cleaned regularly and kept well-ventilated and guests should try where possible to limit their interaction with other households whilst using them.
The guidance also reads that campsites and caravan parks are permitted to open for leisure stays provided that the only shared facilities used by guests at the campsite or caravan park are receptions, washing facilities (including facilities for laundering clothes), public toilets, baby changing rooms, breastfeeding rooms, water points and waste disposal points.
Shower facilities however should be operated so as to ensure no household mixing takes place – either by assigning shower facilities to one household group/support bubble, (i.e. making them private), or running a reservation and clean process (whereby one household can exclusively book the shared facilities for a fixed time, and the facilities are cleaned between reservations and kept well-ventilated).
The usual rule applies to a single household or bubble indoors, or in a group of six people or two households outdoors
Other types of accommodation, such as campsites with shared shower blocks unable to implement the measures above, will be able to open no earlier than May 17.
At this point, social contact limits become a group of six people or two households indoors, or in a group of no more than 30 people outdoors.
Holiday accommodation in Scotland isn’t expected to reopen until April 26 at the earliest.
More detailed guidance as to exactly what specific rules will be in place has yet to be issued by the Scottish government.
Regulations for Northern Ireland are being reviewed later this week on April 15.
Reopening of self-contained accommodation is anticipated under step three, with sites with shared facilities as part of step four of the NI pathway but there are no specific dates against these for the time being.
Camping is a great way to enjoy a holiday in nature and without extortionate costs. However, there’s no denying more preparation is required. Two burning questions often asked are what the toilet situation is like at campsites and what you need to pack.
Bassett continued: “On campsites with toilet blocks facilities, our advice would be to use the facilities (chemical toilet) in your own campervan as much as possible – as this will help to manage demand and minimise queues at toilet blocks.
“Some campsites will also provide toilet tents for customers to use on their allocated pitch.
“Always dispose of waste in the allocated waste disposal point.
“Let’s leave our beautiful countryside as we found it.”
What do I need to pack for a camping holiday?
“The most essential thing to pack for your camping trip is a good sense of humour and a smile. Camping is meant to be fun, don’t take stuff too serious!” enthused Carl Collins from TentLife.
“Camping can be as basic or luxurious as you choose, but the bare minimum you’ll need for some fresh air fun is the following. A suitably sized tent, some gear to sleep in/on (sleeping bag and sleeping mat), some camping chairs and a bit of cooking gear (stove, pans, plates etc).
“Make sure that this stuff is packed in your car as the bare minimum. If you forget anything else, chances are a local shop or supermarket can help.”
Collins continued: “Don’t expect to have everything you need on your first camping trip, everyone is different. Just take the plunge, get out there add other gear to your future trips.
“It becomes a bit of a bug and you always find yourself buying new stuff.”
The camping expert shared TentLife’s recommendations for 2021.
Tent – Check out the Coleman Meadowood 6, poled tent with lots of features and space. Prefer pumping up your tent? The Berghaus Air range with its inflatable beams is a great choice, catering for all family sizes and used by thousands of happy campers.
Sleeping mat – Outwell Dreamboat (double), various thicknesses. Self-inflating, great pack size, will keep you warm and cosy even when placed directly on the ground.
Sleeping bags – Vango Radiate range, heated sleeping bags, perfect for cold sleepers. Also, Vango’s eco-friendly Earth Collection Evolve Superwarm range, made of recycled materials.
Chairs – Very comfy HiGear Vegas XL Deluxe Quilted Chair. Part tub style lounger that keeps your back out of the draught.
Stove – The very versatile Campingaz Party Grill 400 CV. It’s a stove, grill, BBQ and wok – a good allrounder that easily connects to their CV gas canisters.
Kitchen – HiGear Mirage deluxe kitchen unit. Ideal food prep area, good for cooking on and includes a washbasin and storage. Also a hanger for lights and so forth.
The Camping and Caravanning Club detail virus safety measures
Campsites.co.uk, which works with more than 3,000 camping and glamping sites across the UK, reported 300 percent more bookings and enquiries after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the good news. Under the current
“Self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can reopen” from April 12.
“The rest of the accommodation sector” can reopen from May 17.
However, this guidance has caused a big problem for some campsites.
Martin Smith, the founder of Campsites.co.uk, warned “thousands of campsites” are being unfairly affected over the matter of shared toilets.
He said today: “Under the current roadmap, pubs and shops can open their toilet facilities for customers from April 12, but campsites must keep theirs closed until May 17.”
Camping holidays: “Thousands of campsites” are being unfairly affected (Image: Getty Images)
Camping & caravan holidays: Campsites must keep toilet facilities closed until May 17 (Image: Getty Images)
This detail means many sites simply cannot reopen which is a blow for both the industry and holidaymakers.
Bank Holiday weekend getaways will be impacted.
“This matters, because it stops thousands of campsites opening for the early Bank Holiday weekend, depriving independent sites the chance to claw back some of the revenue they have lost from missing successive Easters and all of spring 2021,” said Smith.
“We want the Government to reconsider their decision and level the playing field for campsites.
“If toilets are okay for pubs and shops, there’s no sane reason they can’t be opened at campsites too.”
Smith added: “It’s great for the industry to have a much clearer picture of the months ahead and there is clearly customer demand for holidays in the UK.
“It’s important to open safely of course, but this will be a big blow for some.”
Cornwall, Devon and the Lake District have been identified as the most popular spots to have a camping holiday.
Camping & caravans: “It’s great for the industry to have a much clearer picture of the months ahead” (Image: Getty Images)
However, Britons are starting to branch out elsewhere, said Ed Bassett, General Manager at travel agency Camptoo.
“Following the UK Government’s announcement… we have noticed a sharp rise in UK staycation bookings for the summer period,” he commented.
“Bookings rose 60 percent on Monday, February 22, up from Sunday, February 21 (Sunday is typically the day of the week with the highest bookings), and we believe this trend will continue as people feel more confident in booking summertime travel.
“Interestingly, we’ve noticed that customers are branching out and trying out new destinations entirely – in February 2020 our customers had booked holidays to around 250 destinations, whereas in February 2021 customers have booked to over 300 destinations.”
Camping: Cornwall and Devon are always very popular camping spots (Image: Express)
Bassett added: “It’s great to see that Brits are looking to alternative destinations that they may not have explored before – and that is made even easier when they choose to hire a campervan to take them absolutely anywhere.”
Hotel bookings and cottage rentals are also on the up.
Comparing stats from UK hotel bookings on February 22 2020 (before the UK coronavirus crisis started), Profitroom, a provider of hotel marketing service, reported a 307 percent increase – a record high for hotel bookings.
Meanwhile, according to Last Minute Cottages, traffic increased 107 percent on Monday compared to the week before and bookings for self-catering cottages shot up 187 percent.