We bring you the latest News for campers and caravanners.
The Club has been doing a lot of planning in recent months, ready for a return to camping.
This could be from 4 July in England, the earliest date for stage three of the government’s roadmap for easing lockdown, when some businesses could partially reopen.
We have surveyed our members on their hopes, expectations and what would make them feel comfortable on site. While many things remain uncertain, our Operational teams have a draft plan for how we hope to open the Club Site network as soon as we’re legally able to.
At the time of writing, we plan to open the majority of Club Sites, including as many as possible with facilities if allowed to do so by the government. Some sites, however, will open without facilities and unfortunately it’s likely that 26 sites will remain closed for the rest of the season. See our website for full details. We anticipate our ten privately owned franchised sites will follow suit and also plan to open in England from 4 July.
The focus is on making reopening as safe as possible, while ensuring the Club can cope with strong interest from members keen to get away on camping breaks. Holiday bookings for July have increased hugely in recent weeks, and the Club’s planning has also been helped by the findings of a recent survey of Club members who had previously booked holidays on our Club Sites (see ‘Our survey said...’, below).
The Club’s approach depends largely on any further government guidance, such as being able to operate toilet block facilities. We believe we’re well placed to offer safe, socially distanced holidays, with at least six metres between pitches, reduced capacity on facility sites, contactless check-in on site and sensible social distancing measures – for more, read our Q&A with the Club’s Director of Operations Darren Whittington (below).
As revealed in last month’s magazine, we can open our campsites with or without toilet block facilities, as many campers have their own washroom in their caravan or motorhome. If we cannot make facility blocks available, tent campers would need to provide their own portable toilet and toilet tent (see our help and advice feature on own sanitation tips).
With the reopening of outdoor markets, car showrooms and many caravan and motorhome dealerships at the start of June, and non-essential retailers set to follow suit from 15 June, restrictions on overnight stays are nevertheless still in place at the time of publishing this issue, and we still await the government’s approval to reopen campsites.
We anticipate our Certificated Site network of small, privately owned campsites will re-open in line with the Club Site network. However, at this stage we’ve taken the decision not to reopen our Ready Camp tents, nor our glamping pods or self-catering holiday homes, in 2020. All social camping activity, which generally involves larger gatherings, with our Regions, District Associations and Special Interest Sections is suspended until at least the end of July. We'll review this activity at the end of June.
As a reminder, during closure, the Club is moving or fully refunding bookings and has extended your membership for as long as our sites are closed. Future bookings made while the sites are closed are fully flexible, and members can now book a pitch at a Club Site up to 18 months in advance.
We will contact anyone who had an existing booking on a site now closed for the season, and likewise have advised members and customers who had bookings on sites that will now open without facility blocks.
Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We will only re-open when the government tells us it is safe and indeed we’re legally able to do so.
“We have campsites all over the UK and believe that you don’t have to travel far for a break and a change of scene – by supporting local businesses and local economies in a sensible and phased approach, the Club and its members can start to help the rebuilding process when the time is right.
“When we do return, and welcome our members back to our sites, you can be sure the welcome you receive will never feel warmer.”
Q&A with Darren Whittington, Director of Operations
What are the details of reopening?
Getting our sites network ready to open for an as yet unknown date has been challenging. The guidance has changed over the course of the lockdown and it’s important we’re reactive but also that we have a plan. Things may evolve and I’d urge members to check our website for the latest information.
What social distancing will be in place on Club Sites?
Our pitches have six-metre spacing and we’ll reduce the number of people on Club Sites with facility blocks so we can manage demand. There will be signs and floor markings as a common sense reminder to keep two metres from other people. We’re only allowing individual bookings and with well-managed sites we can prevent large groups assembling.
What is contactless check in?
Rather than have to enter a Club Site reception, the balance of the payment is taken automatically on the morning of the day a camper arrives on site. Pitches will be allocated by the Holiday Site Team and the camper shown to their pitch on arrival.
Will receptions, shops and communal areas open?
No, they will be closed to campers, as will parks and play equipment, and laundry facilities. Washing up facilities will open with alternate spacing to allow for social distancing. Motorhome service and chemical disposal points will be open. While we will have enhanced cleaning across the site for high contact areas, we’d ask that members follow the guidance on regular hand-washing and bring their own soap and sanitiser.
How will washblock facilities be managed?
We’ve invested in protective equipment for our Site staff and will continue to use high quality cleaning products. If the government tells us that washblocks are allowed to open, then on the sites we’ve identified we will increase cleaning to two deep cleans daily and four additional cleans, with further cleaning for areas such as door handles. Some cubicles and sinks will be closed in blocks for distancing and we’ll manage the number of people using facilities at the same time.
How are the Sites teams feeling about everything?
Our teams have been amazing. They have been maintaining the sites, which have never looked better, and furloughed staff have been understanding of the difficult situation. We’re asking a lot of the teams who are managing our sites in trying times and I can’t thank them enough. I’m sure our members will do the same when the sites reopen. It’s important that when the sites reopen, both staff and members do their bit to keep each other safe, so we can all enjoy being on site again.
Our Survey said ...
We received feedback from 11,000 members who’ve previously booked holidays on our Club Sites, and here’s what they said.
Do you plan on taking a camping break this season?
Yes, I have booked
Yes, I’ll make a booking in the future
No, due to Covid-19
I haven’t decided yet, or other
What are the top four measures you’d like to see on reopened Club Sites?
Social distancing in communal areas
Enhanced cleaning regime
Prevent large groups from socialising
Contactless check in
If we reopened our campsites but facility blocks were closed, would you still camp with us?
Don’t know, or other
To book a Club Site pitch, head to the Club website.
ROB GANLEY | 15 June 2020