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As lockdown measures start to ease and hotels, holiday properties, B&Bs, caravan parks and campsites start to re-open for business – just in time for the fast-approaching school holidays – many of us will welcome the chance to escape.
The months ahead are expected to be massive for UK tourism, as holidaymakers, many of whom have had overseas trips cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, look to make up for lost time closer to home.
But while the lure of sea and sand – or simply a change of scene – may be just the thing you’re after right now, there are a host of new rules to get to grips with.
For a time, there had been questions marks over whether campsites would be allowed to open this summer – amid concerns around shared facilities. The good news is for those looking for a holiday under canvas, they are now allowed to do so.
Ahead of re-opening, campsites have been working hard to introduce health and safety measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. This includes strict cleaning regimes and queuing systems for toilets, showers and kitchen facilities – so if you’re planning a camping holiday, be ready for measures such as allocated time-slots and one-way systems.
Pitches will be clearly marked out to allow for social distancing between tents, and contact between campers and staff – and campers and other campers – will be kept to a minimum.
Note that you won’t be able to keep kids entertained splashing around this summer, as outdoor pools remain closed until further notice.
With holiday lets now starting to open for business, self-catering breaks are set to prove very popular this summer, as this is an easy way to keep contact with others to a minimum.
Properties on Airbnb and other holiday rental sites are in high demand – which could see some prices pushed upwards, and particularly during the peak season while schools are out for the summer.
If you are planning on booking a holiday rental, it’s worth noting that the government has introduced new guidance, including deep cleaning between each booking. This could mean stricter rules on check-in and check-out times; it could also mean guests face extra charges to cover the additional cost. Where possible, contactless key collection should be arranged.
Some properties may remove items such as cushions, throws and board games – so if you’ve got children, you may want to pack a few extra bits and pieces.
If you’re looking to head to a hotel for your UK holiday, you are likely to find yourself facing a pre-arrival health questionnaire, a temperature check in the lobby, and a digital check-in (via tablet or app) – or staff sitting behind screens.
You may be asked to wear a face mask in communal spaces, and lift use may be restricted – so be prepared to lug your bags up a flight of stairs or two.
You can still expect tea and coffee-making facilities, but many things will be pared back. You won’t have access to a mini-bar, and may not be able to get magazines or newspapers – or have access to communal computers.
Re-usable toiletries will be replaced with sealed packs containing disposable essentials. Some furnishings may have been removed from rooms.
One of the biggest disappointments may be the fact you won’t be able to pile up your plate at the breakfast buffet, as it will be table service only – with staggered arrival times. In most establishments, in-room dining will be actively encouraged.
Also note there will be no early morning workouts or pre-breakfast swims, as gyms and pools remain closed.
For the time being, spa facilities will also have to remain shut.
Expect rigorous cleaning of communal areas throughout the day.
If you’re holidaying with little ones this summer, you’ll be pleased to know that you can now visit almost all major theme parks, adventure parks, zoos, safari parks and aquariums. However, water parks and water rides remain closed.
If you’re planning a day trip, you need to be organised and purchase tickets online – and remember to head out armed with face masks and hand sanitiser.
Be prepared for longer queues as there will be restrictions on visitor numbers to allow for social distancing.
Warn children in advance that empty rows on rides could mean longer waits, while some rides may be not be operating at all. Expect to have your temperature scanned when you arrive.
In addition to theme parks and zoos, other leisure facilities, such as playgrounds, cinemas, museums and galleries should now also be open – meaning there are now plenty of options to keep the family entertained.
Don’t forget to get cover in place for your staycation
Worrying new research from MoneySuperMarket reveals that more than half of Brits have never taken out a comprehensive travel insurance policy for a UK staycation.
But just because you’re holidaying closer to home, it’s important not to scrimp on cover. If you do, you could be at risk of losing money in the event of delayed or cancelled transport or accommodation, baggage loss, or cash – or damage to any valuables, such as camping equipment.
For those considering a staycation this summer, the key is to ensure you have the right policy in place. As the UK continues to find its way through the coronavirus pandemic, taking out a comprehensive policy at the time of booking will give you the peace of mind of knowing you are covered against any cancellations or unexpected changes.
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