Campsite owners relieved but cautious ahead of reopening

The owners of a highly-rated camping and caravan site have welcomed the news that they can reopen but said they will remain cautious even after lockdown eases.

Johanna Avis and David Berrisford’s site in pretty Bellingham, Northumberland, will not open on July 4 but will welcome its first visitors a week later, although the toilet block will remain closed until August.

The pair will monitor the coronavirus threat in the wider region, which will influence how they operate the Bellingham Camping and Caravanning Club.

Coronavirus – Wed Jun 24, 2020
Johanna Avis and David Berrisford, owners of the Bellingham Camping and Caravanning Club (Bellingham Camping and Caravanning Club/PA)

They will introduce a traffic light system for the washing facilities, set up a sanitation station for hand gels, and step up their already vigorous cleaning programme.

They plan to reduce August’s capacity to around 120 – two-thirds of their maximum visitor numbers during a busy summer.

Despite the restrictions, they said bookings are looking very good for August, with people unwilling to holiday abroad.

The popular site is expected to be busy in August despite restrictions put in place to keep visitors safe (Bellingham Camping and Caravanning Club/PA)

Ms Avis said: “It was quite a relief when we heard that campsites could reopen.

“It’s very difficult to plan when you don’t know when you can open.”

She said there is a balance to be struck between saving their business and remaining conscious of local people’s feelings about visitors coming to Bellingham – a village popular with walkers because it is on the Pennine Way.

She said: “Our strategy is to open a week after the announced date.

“We need more time to sort out the Covid-19 precautions.

The site is popular with walkers because it is close to the Pennine Way (Bellingham Camping and Caravanning Club/PA)

“We are also trying to be considerate of locals who might not want visitors turning up, so we will be limiting capacity when we do open.

“We will be doing more regular cleaning of the toilet blocks, wiping down the contact points, and we will use a traffic light system to limit the number of people using the toilet and shower blocks at any one time.”

Ms Avis said the site is highly-rated because of the friendly welcome staff put on, taking time to orientate visitors, which will be harder with social distancing.

The main challenge will be sanitation, she added.

“We will have a lot more precautions, and setting them up takes time and money.”

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