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Camping during Coronavirus

Everything you need to know about campervan and camping safety during COVID-19

Last update: November 18th, 2020

As we are going into the second nationwide lockdown, planning for travel might seem a little overwhelming. It is essential to have all facts gathered in advance before you safely head out on your adventure. 

Freedom of movement, in particular, has been and will naturally continue to be affected by the measures put in place in order to stop the progress of the current pandemic. Therefore, especially when it comes to travelling by campervan and planning a road trip or camping holiday, there are several questions and uncertainties, centred around one main doubt: are holidays still possible despite coronavirus?

For this reason, we have put together all pertinent information and essential travel advice for campers so you can plan your road trip with minimal stress and get back outdoors as safely as possible. At Indie Campers, the safety of our travellers is of extreme priority, along with the wellbeing of our community. It is fundamental for us to keep everyone safe and well informed, and we are doing everything to make sure the information provided below is as up-to-date as possible. For more detailed guidelines visit the UK government website .

Campervan travel during coronavirus

Before going on a campervan trip in the current travel climate, it is essential to make sure you are informed and comply with local restrictions within the region or regions you are visiting. In areas where travel and camping are permitted, campervan travelling could be one of the safest and most sustainable ways of tourism, as it allows for self-sustainability and minimal human contact while you are introduced to new experiences. 

While on the road, a good introductory tip is to prepare to be as self-sufficient as possible, some general tips include:

  • Ensuring you have access to all facilities you need such as a toilet, appropriate levels of clean and wastewater, food and battery levels for the night. 
  • Try to limit human interaction beyond your travel companions to a minimum during this period. 
  • Stay safe by regularly disinfecting frequently touched areas of the van upon every entry and exit such as frequently touched areas like the door handles, the steering wheel and the gear stick

Coronavirus and Travel in the UK

As the progress of the coronavirus pandemic remains quite unpredictable around the world, no travel is entirely risk-free at this point in time. If you are planning to travel abroad in the weeks and months ahead - even if you are returning to a place you have visited before... - make sure to follow the concrete policies that currently apply to the region where you reside, such as restrictions to international travel. In the UK, there are different rules that apply to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Coming from abroad to the UK during this period, you will need to comply with any current measures that have been undertaken in order to manage localised outbreaks, such as border closures, restrictions in movement or quarantine rules. You will also need to complete the passenger locator form to prepare for your entry into the UK, which you can do up to 48 hours before your arrival.

Please note that you may have to quarantine for up to 14 days in the UK after your arrival if you are coming from countries that are not in the travel corridors list . Travel corridors might vary between England’s, Scotland’s, Wales’ and Northern Ireland’s lists.

A girl tying shoelaces in the door of a campervan with a mask during coronavirus

Travel in England during coronavirus

Starting on the 5th of November 2020, additional coronavirus restrictions have come into effect in the UK. The instructions under the current England lockdown are that “no person may leave or be outside of the place where they are living without reasonable excuse”. If you live in England, you can therefore not travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make. As restrictions ease in December, you can find out where you are safe and ‘Good to Go’ on this interactive map .

However, there are exemptions for travelling for caring commitments or for work when this can not be done from home. Therefore, under the current legislation, you can rent a campervan to travel for essential work, medical reasons, caring responsibilities or education, if staying away from home is essential for your job. Keep in mind, though, that you should not travel if you feel unwell, even if the reason for travel is seen as essential. 

Read the full guidance advised by the government here .

Coronavirus Restrictions in London

London is currently under the four-week national lockdown which started on November 5th. All leisure outlets, pubs and restaurants, along with all non-essential shops, will be under closure. If you are looking to travel around London, you should avoid using public transport at peak times – cycle or walk where possible. Wearing a mask is compulsory across the city and on public transport.

On December 2th, London and the rest of England are expected to return to the tiered local restrictions system. There is, however, nothing that keeps you from dreaming of brighter days and discovering safe ways to travel from London at a later stage.

Foreign travel to England

Anyone arriving during the England lockdown may be subject to quarantine. It is further likely that travel plans upon arrival might be impacted, as flights and public transport is heavily diminished. Keep up to date with England's travel restrictions before you go.

UK travel corridors are minimal in November, currently including Ireland, Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Finland and Norway in Europe (Denmark was recently excluded from the list). Find the full list of updated travel corridors here

Travel in Scotland during coronavirus

The Scottish government has shared strong guidance with the intent of limiting the spread of the virus, thus limiting travelling itself. Wearing face coverings in various settings is included in the law and can be enforced on anyone over the age of 5.

Scotland's coronavirus alert system

A new five-level system of restrictions is now in force across Scotland, with different measures in place for different parts of the country. Each level refers to different stages of governmental restrictions regarding movement and social interaction, in which 0 is almost no restrictions and level 4 is close to a lockdown. 

Image explaining the different scottish covid alerts in relation to camping

As to where you can travel, the government is currently advising people not to travel in or out of council areas under level 3 - which includes Edinburgh -, unless essential. This can include work, education, outdoor exercise, healthcare or caring responsibilities, and essential shopping. You can find the tier for each of the other localities on the Scottish government website .

Residents in areas under level 0, 1 or 2 are being told not to travel into a level 3 area, except for essential purposes. People are also asked not to travel between Scotland and England unless their journey is deemed essential.

Foreign travel to Scotland 

The Scottish government advises against non-essential foreign travel, and people arriving from certain countries must spend two weeks in quarantine post-arrival. If you are a foreigner looking to travel to Scotland, you must be aware that every person arriving into Scotland (other than a small number of exempt categories ) must complete the passenger locator form and must provide evidence of having done so upon arrival, if requested by a Scottish Border Force official.

If you do not complete the form nor present it upon arrival, you may be fined £60. You should avoid visiting multiple hospitality premises on the same day. In particular, do not visit more than one pub or bar on the same day, as this increases the risk of transmission.

Overnight stays and Camping during coronavirus

Under the current travel and movement restrictions, camping and overnight stays are restricted in most parts of the UK. In England and Northern Ireland, camping for leisure is prohibited and campsites are closed until December 2th. In some areas of Scotland, camping is allowed according to each region's alert level. Camping and overnight stays have recently opened in Wales exclusively for domestic travellers.

In England, under the new lockdown rules, overnight stays away from one’s primary residence is currently prohibited until December 2th. This includes secondary homes or campervans in the UK and abroad. The only exception is the need to travel for work, education or other legally permitted reasons, under which one is allowed, with a permit, to stay away from their primary home, either in a campervan, a secondary home or another service.

Are campsites open right now?

Due to the current restriction levels, many UK campsites have reported that they will close until Spring. However, some all-year-open campsites are planning on opening as soon as the current movement restrictions are lifted.  

Regardless of the opening of a campsite, campervan self-sufficiency is the safest way to go in the current travel and camping climate. It might be a good idea to plan ahead to ensure you can limit social interaction and social distance, even while staying on a campsite. 

A good way to reduce the need for external premises is to book a campervan that has a toilet and shower, together with stocking up on food so that you are able to make all your meals in the van.

Camping during Coronavirus - Overnight Stays

Campsites in England

Campsites and campervan parks have reported to close during the current lockdown, and both The Caravan and Motorhome Club and Camping and Caravanning Club have announced that all their campsites will be closed until the Government advises that reopening is safe, which is currently projected to happen in the beginning of December 2020.

After the lockdown, campsites in England are expected to open according to the evolution of local alert levels.

Campsites in Scotland

Under current restrictions, Scottish campsites are open or closed in accordance with the local COVID-19 alert levels in each region of Scotland. 

Check which campsites are open in Scotland under VisitScotland’s “Good to Go” scheme.

At the moment, campsites in Scotland are primarily for Scottish residents. Non-essential travel to Scotland and access to Scottish campsites should be avoided for residents from England and Wales (and vice versa) under the current set of restrictions. 

Campsites in Scotland are open in regions under alert level 3 and lower. However, people residing on level 3 areas should only travel within their region and avoid accessing a campsite in a lower-tier area. Additionally, people from tier 3 areas should not stay in a campsite or campervan with people from another household than their own. Campsites in Scottish tier 4 areas should not be used for leisure at the moment.

Despite the possibility for campervan sites in alert zones until level 3 to stay open, people in these regions are encouraged to stay only with others from their households and opt for self-catering. Social distancing of at least 2 meters between people from different households should be maintained during the duration of the stay at one of these sites. 

Tier 0 to 2 alert zones, that allow for camping in Scotland, currently include but are not limited to: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, Highland and Scottish Borders (see full list of regional coronavirus location levels in Scotland ).

Level 3 alert zones currently include Edinburgh, Dundee and Angus among others

From Friday 6pm on 20 November until 20 December the following councils will be under level 4 alert and close to full lockdown:

East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian

Follow the most recent Scottish COVID-19 updates here .

Wild camping in Scotland

Wild camping is allowed in most parts of Scotland under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code . However, make sure you are aware of the limitations of the code and “leave no trace”. Special rules apply for campervan wild camping, so make sure you know the local regulations for motorhome wild camping in the area where you are considering to park your vehicle for the night. 

Coronavirus and Wildcamping

As a general rule keep the following in mind:

  • Don't drive into nature;
  • Practice discretion (don’t put up a camp but rather stay in your vehicle);
  • Do not park on the road or near houses;
  • Comply with local road signage. 

In the current climate, it's more important than ever to avoid crowds with fellow motorhome travellers. Campervan travellers are encouraged to ensure they stay within the boundaries of the current governmental travel advice and to therefore limit human interaction and be self-sufficient. 

As many campsites are closed, it is more fundamental than ever before to ensure nature is left in a better condition than when you found it, as well as to stay away from other campers.

Campsites in Wales

From November 9th, campsites will be able to open in Wales but to Welsh residents only.  Domestic travel within Wales will be possible, including for tourism. However, campsites will still not allow access by travellers from England due to the current travel restrictions.

When will camping be allowed?

Campsites are expected to start opening across the UK once lockdown rules are lifted. In England, camping is forecasted to be allowed again in the beginning of December. At that point, localised restrictions might apply within a local tiered system.

Most campsite associations operate under these premises as well. As an example, the Camping and Caravan Club have reported that their full-season campsites will open as soon as national and local restrictions ease.

Can I go camping during quarantine?

If you have to go into quarantine or self-isolate, you should stay on your own in a closed space, meaning you cannot stay at a campsite where you share common areas, facilities or where you could eventually get close to other campers. 

If you have a special need to self-isolate away from home or family for special reasons, staying in a campervan parked away in a secluded spot could be a good option. If this is something you would consider, please contact local authorities to see if this is legal in your community. If you are looking for personal isolation pods, a good option might be to book a long term hire subscription , starting from £700 a month in the UK.

Travelling abroad

Right now it is not advised to travel abroad for leisure, and travellers returning from a trip abroad must self-isolate for 14 days after arrival (with some exceptions). If you are considering travelling abroad, make sure you inform yourself about the governmental travel advice for your destination . Specific rules apply for the Common Travel Area (CTA) between England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Indie Campers’ Coronavirus measures

At Indie Campers, we have undertaken extra measures to ensure each traveller stays safe when travelling with one of our campervans or motorhomes. In order to reduce human contact during the entire booking and pick-up process, we have developed an online check-in service, complemented with online van tutorials, that allow you to minimise physical contact and service time at our local warehouse when starting your trip. 

Additionally, we have developed new safety and cleaning measures across all of our European locations, that make up our 2020 Deep Cleaning procedure. You can find more information about Indie Campers’ coronavirus special measures on our  Clean&Safe page  and on the video below:

Latest updates:

18th November 2020: Scotland implements lockdown in 11 councils. From Friday 6pm on 20 November until 20 December the following areas will move to level 4 alert and close to full lockdown - West Lothian, Glasgow, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire. Level three - Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Perth & Kinross. East Lothian and Midlothian are scheduled to move from level three to level two on Tuesday. Level two - Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Borders, Dumfries & Galloway. Level one - Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles.

10th November 2020: Scotland moves three local authorities from level 2 to level 3: Fife, Perth & Kinross and Angus.

10th November 2020: Wales lifts domestic travel restrictions.

05th November 2020: A national lockdown started in England, expected to last until December 2nd.

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