IT’S been many long months since we were able to head off and spend a night or two in a tent or under a tarp.
And with the prospect of holidays abroad being off the agenda for some time yet, camping in the UK looks likely to become one of the nation’s favourite getaways this year.
After being in lockdowns for more than 12 months, there is some light at the end of the tunnel as the government looks to ease restrictions over the next few weeks.
As set out in Whitehall’s latest lockdown exit strategy, the gradual public emergence from Covid-19 restrictions in England began on Monday March 29 when the ‘stay at home’ rule was replaced with a ‘stay in the UK’ guideline, designed to curb non-essential foreign travel.
Over the following days, providing certain government targets are met, holidays within the UK could be given the green light from April 12.
As of Saturday March 27, internal travel within Wales was allowed with overnight stays. Again, certain conditions and criteria must be met before restrictions are lifted further.
On Friday April 2 Scotland lifted its ‘stay at home’ restriction, replacing it with a ‘stay local’ rule.
Announcing the move, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “That means the current travel restrictions, which prevent non-essential travel outside your own local authority area, will remain in place for another three weeks.”
She also said that all remaining shops, indoor gyms and swimming pools will be allowed to open for individual exercise, while pubs, cafés and restaurants will be able to serve outdoors at the return to the levels system later in April.
Crucially, for lovers of the outdoors in Scotland, it means overnight stays and, therefore, camping will be permitted again from April 26.
Lifting of restrictions for camping in the UK 2021
All being well, the April 12 move in England will mean people will be allowed to stay away from home overnight – but only with other members of their household or established bubble in self-contained accommodation such as a tent or holiday cottage. This does not include hotels at this stage.
The important point is that camping should – if all goes to plan with the lifting of restrictions – be allowed from Monday April 12 in England (but only with self-contained facilities, not shared facilities).
The government has confirmed that camping classes as ‘self-catering accommodation’, meaning that campsites without shared facilities will be permitted to reopen.
Again, if the government’s criteria and conditions are met, further restrictions will be eased from Monday May 17 which will allow camping for a group of up to six people from different households.
All restrictions are expected to be lifted from Monday June 21.
In Wales, the ‘stay local’ rule was lifted from March 27, allowing self-contained accommodation to reopen for one household. Only travel within Wales is permitted, meaning non-essential travel across Welsh borders is banned until Monday April 12.
The move by the Welsh government means six people from two households now able to meet up outside – an increase from the current four-person limit.
England: From April 12.
Scotland: From April 26.
Wales: Now (within borders).
Northern Ireland: To be confirmed.
Stuck for ideas? Take a look at our Ever Wild Holidays section.
Want some tips on what to cook on the campfire? Look no further than the Ever Wild Kitchen.
THE following is a summary of the steps from the government’s guidance report for the Covid-19 Response Spring 2021, detailing how the loosening of restrictions will work over the coming months (for a detailed report, visit COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk))…
UK Government Covid-19 Response – Spring 2021
Changes on 29 March
The evidence shows that it is safer for people to meet outdoors rather than indoors. And this is why from 29 March, when most schools start to break up for the Easter holidays, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households will also be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside.
Business and activities
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
The ‘stay at home’ rule will end on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes. Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons. Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme. The government has launched a new taskforce to review global travel which will report on 12 April.
Step 2 – not before 12 April
Business and activities
Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April, will see the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres. Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups); as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas. Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at Step 2 and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’). Wider social contact rules will apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
While funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.
Step 3 – not before 17 May
As part of Step 3, no earlier than 17 May, the government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible, allowing people to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances.
This means that most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply – we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
As soon as possible and by no later than Step 3, we will also update the advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging. But until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
Business and activities
Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits. Indoor hospitality will reopen – and as in Step 2, venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks; nor will there be a curfew. Customers will, however, have to order, eat and drink while seated.
Other indoor locations to open up in Step 3 include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas; the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs; and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes. The government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number), and in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number). In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Review of social distancing
Finally, before Step 4 begins, the government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission. This will inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which the rules on 1 metre plus, the wearing of face coverings and other measures may be lifted. This will also inform guidance on working from home – which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete.
Step 4 – not before 21 June
By Step 4 which will take place no earlier than 21 June, the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.
Business, activities and events
We hope to reopen remaining premises, including nightclubs, and ease the restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3. This will be subject to the results of a scientific Events Research Programme to test the outcome of certain pilot events through the spring and summer, where we will trial the use of testing and other techniques to cut the risk of infection. The same Events Research Programme will guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.
As we move through each of these phases in the roadmap, we must all remember that COVID-19 remains a part of our lives. We are going to have to keep living our lives differently to keep ourselves and others safe. We must carry on with ‘hands, face, space’. Comply with the COVID-Secure measures that remain in place. Meet outdoors when we can and keep letting fresh air in. Get tested when needed. Get vaccinated when offered. If we all continue to play our part, we will be that bit closer to a future that is more familiar.