By William Coleman
2020 has been an extremely strange and difficult year but we are slowly turning the tide and it seems as though we are getting back to normal, or should I say the “new normal”. We caught up with The Caravan and Motorhome Club this week to see how they have adapted to the challenges of social distance holidaying on site.
The events of the last six months have meant that we have all had to make changes to our day-to-day life, which have naturally transferred to our leisure time. With so many of us being locked down for so long all we want to do is get out there and have a real holiday. But it is here where we must also adapt to some new changes to stay safe and keep those around us healthy.
I spent a morning talking to Nick Lomas, Director General of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, about what changes the Club have made to ensure we all stay safe and sound as we start to tour in a very different world.
Ironically the last time I actually saw Nick was back in February at this very site going over plans to ensure the Club stayed safe with the pandemic that was looming. None of us foresaw the events that would unfold in the weeks and months to come.
Reopening In The New World
Back in July the Club reopened most of their sites, but there were a few changes due to what has been going on in the world. Before the Club could get vans back on site they had to ensure they took every measure to meet the pandemic fears as risks head on.
The Club spared no expense, and remained open as much as possible so they could work towards reopening, as well as keeping their members informed of any and all changes.
Although the site network was closed the work continues behind the scenes with most staff working remotely and others working on an opening plan to ensure any and all government guidelines were met in what was an ever changing situation.
Back in March before the global pandemic really started to unfold I mentioned that the caravan site and leisure vehicle may just be the perfect place to be to avoid COVID. Leisure vehicles are self contained living units and pitch spacing provides more than enough room to provide a socially distanced space.
Although sites were forced to close at the height of lockdown, they represent one of the safest ways to holiday now that the country is re-opening. Following strict cleaning schedules and social distancing rules only goes to underline this further.
Now that things seem to be returning to normal the touring world is facing another boom, which could eclipse the one we saw in 2017. The Club has seen huge spikes in new membership numbers with a large proportion of which being first time caravan and motorhomes users.
It is clear to see that we in the UK are still unsure about air travel so are flocking to the caravan world for our much needed holiday time. The Club had its biggest August for sign ups in ten years. It had so many new members that it even had to hold a week of festivities to welcome and guide newcomers into our world. You can read about it all here.
The Club’s Covid Secure Commitment
The Club have put together their very own Covid Secure Commitment that has been designed, alongside government guidelines, to ensure they are doing the best for their site staff and members when arriving and staying on site.
Despite the majority of UK sites having a large amount of open space and room to keep a safe and comfortable distance from strangers there are still a lot of measures the Club needed to consider before re opening. The main one being the communal areas where paths may cross.
When arriving on site you will see a few changes. Having experienced them first hand, I can confidently say that they are very clear, easy to follow and have very little impact on your holiday experience.
The changes apply to the following areas of your visit:
Arriving On Site– There is now very little face to face interaction with entry staff and almost every transaction is done via the phone, the number cis learly displayed at the site entrance just outside the office.
If you are unable to complete entry and payments via phone an alternative method will be available on site.
Pitching Up– A large majority of Club pitches are 6m apart so social distancing will never be an issue when setting up. As always site staff will advise you of your pitching options when you arrive.
Using The Toilet Blocks– I think we can all agree that the toilet block on any site is the one location where you come closest to your fellow site guest so as you can imagine there are a few changes here.
Other areas such as service points, laundry rooms, information rooms and waste disposal areas will be limited to use by one family group at any one time to meet social distancing requirements.
-Should the facility be occupied or in use, there will be the need to queue externally
-Observe floor markings which indicate the appropriate social distancing requirements
-The Club strongly encourage you to wear face coverings for your safety and the safety of others
Using Social Areas On Site– At this time all shops, restaurants, bars, swimming pools, playgrounds, games rooms and social areas will remain closed. Shops, restaurants and bars will operate in line with government guidelines.
-A telephone ‘order and collect’ service for essential items such as LPG, toilet chemical and awning pegs will be available from the site staff.
-On-site restaurants will offer a takeaway service.
-Mobile catering units will be available on some sites with a collection only facility, observing social distancing rules while queueing.
-Grocery shopping can be delivered to a designated area on site, following direction from the site staff.
Doing Your Bit On Site– As the saying goes, ‘we are all in this together’ and by respecting each other and the guidance provided by the government we can all stay safe and well.
-Where possible, use your own onboard facilities to help manage demand levels for the toilet blocks
-Wear face coverings when inside shops, reception areas or other enclosed spaces. We strongly encourage that you also do this in other campsite shared facilities.
-Please be considerate of other members’ needs to access shared facilities by minimising your dwell time.
-Keep to footpaths where possible and avoid shortcutting across pitches.
-Always follow the current government guidance on-site and in the local area.
-Respect social distancing.
-Follow the latest UK government advice on social gatherings, especially gatherings inside caravans/motorhomes/campervans or awnings and tents – Staying SAfe Outside Your Home
-Regularly wash your hands for 20 seconds.
So as you can see a lot of what is being asked is a mixture of what you already know and what I am sure you are already doing in your normal day to day life.
After speaking with Nick and actually spending time on site it is clear to see that the UK Club sites are an extremely safe place to be and are as clean and fun as usual. Aside from a handful of common sense rules and some great sign posting you should not really notice any real change to your holiday experience.
To watch the live interview I did with Nick Lomas Click Here