‘Staycations’ with added social distancing to be this year’s norm

Linda J. Dodson

Pritchard suggests that caravan and holiday-home owners could be among the first to stay at sites as part of their phased reopening as self-contained units will be easier to control.

Instead of marking out distances at campsites when they do reopen, Pritchard has proposed that site owners should create “wildlife corridors” by letting the grass grow a two-metre width between tent pitches.

She says ideas such as this will keep customers safe but also make sites more desirable to visit. “It’s so much greener and more attractive for the environment,” she says. “One, the hedgehogs will love it and two, the customers will keep their distance.”

Trade body the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) expects outdoor venues such as gardens, zoos, safari parks and country estates to be the most popular attractions with visitors when lockdown restrictions are eased.

Intimate indoor attractions such as theatres will take the longest to recover.

Bernard Donoghue, chief executive of ALVA, whose members range from stately homes and museums to theme parks and zoos, says the large open spaces on offer at outdoor attractions will make social distancing easier to implement and make visitors feel safer.

Venues are expected to stagger visiting times to prevent overcrowding, while many will go cashless and encourage customers to book online before they arrive. The Titanic Belfast is planning to manage visitor flow by making certain days open exclusively to families, with others reserved for elderly visitors.

At Chester Zoo, management are hopeful they will be able to reopen the site as early as next month, albeit at a significantly reduced capacity. The zoo has been closed since March 21 but about half of its 600 staff continue to work to maintain upkeep of its 35,000 animals, which cost as much as £465,000 a week just to feed.

About 97pc of sales are made from visitors coming through the doors, meaning a reopening as soon as possible is critical, says Jamie Christon, the site’s chief operating officer.

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