Open letter to Chief Medical Officer, United Kingdom
Dear Professor Whitty
The Caravan and Motorhome Club represents a million members and operates the largest network of campsites in the UK. The Club has been in existence since 1907 and has over 200 Club operated locations and a further 2,300 smaller sites (Certificated Locations) operated mostly by farmers and small rural businesses. This means that holiday makers do not have to travel large distances to find a campsite, on average there is a site every 20 square miles. In normal circumstances visitors to these sites spend some £700,000,000 pa in rural communities. However our members can follow their leisure activity in a self-contained manner, with all of their own supplies and amenities within their outfit, thereby having a low impact on the area they visit. The average party size of our members is 2.7 people from the same household and on average they stay for a few days at a time.
It has been heartening to see the recognition from Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, and Professor Van-Tam that careful thought and consideration is being given to the resumption of outdoor holidays.
The Caravan and Motorhome Club is liaising with Visit Britain, Tourism Alliance and other campsite operators to ensure best practice operating, cleansing and safety protocols are developed to ensure we are COVID Secure when we are able to reopen campsites. In fact the Club and its sites network was already operating with adapted protocols to observe social distancing guidelines, reduced common areas and increased cleaning of all shared facilities pre lockdown and closure.
Be assured we are closely following all relevant Government and public health bodies’ advice and guidance to adapt or update our processes on site, which currently provide for:
- vehicle pitches already spaced at least 6m apart, thus inherently enabling family groups to maintain current social distancing guidelines.
- rigorous cleaning of all communal areas and we will increase the number of times they are cleaned, in particular the significant touchpoints and limit the amount of people who can use the amenities at any one time.
- contactless check-in and clear markings on the floor in and near communal areas to ensure all visitors to our campsites can easily maintain distancing guidelines while enjoying their holiday.
- communal areas (water, waste and refuse points etc) will be subject to a queue system in line with the current social distancing guidance of 2m distance. This will be marked on the floor.
- Club restaurants, bars, swimming pools, games rooms and social areas will remain closed until otherwise advised. Mobile (take away) catering units will be available on some sites with social distancing rules in place while queueing.
- Information provided to site visitors to remind them of social distancing whilst visiting local amenities.
The benefits of outdoor holidays were highlighted in a recent report from the UK Caravan and Camping Alliance (‘UKCCA’*), which concluded health and wellbeing had improved for visitors who reported doing more exercise and feeling more relaxed while on a holiday park or campsite.
The same report also confirms that holiday parks and campsites around the UK support 171,448 full-time employees – so not only are touring holidays hugely beneficial for individual wellbeing, they are a significant contributor to local economies and wider UK economy.
As a responsible members club we actively encourage Club members to adhere to the Caravan Code which ensures their vehicles are in good repair with particular attention is paid to those sections of the Highway Code relevant to trailer caravans. The club also reminds members to observe the Countryside Code relating to water, cleanliness, fire dangers, litter, public paths, gates, control of dogs, damage to crops, hedges, walls, trees and plants, livestock and wildlife.
Caravan and Motorhome Club firmly believe that the touring industry is well placed to ably support the Government’s need to maintain it’s COVID-19 social distancing measures, provide reassurance to local communities with responsible behaviour and aid economic recovery, by reopening its sites at the earliest possible date.
I and my colleagues would very much welcome the opportunity to offer our experience and support on touring and camping to further inform Government and Public Health Authorities in these unprecedented times.
With our warmest regards,
Caravan and Motorhome Club