Can I still book a holiday cottage for Christmas?

Phoebe Shipton  ·  26th October 2020

Christmas wreath

If you are looking for a Christmas holiday cottage in Kent in general, or one of the Kent Coast gems in locations such as Deal, Walmer, Kingsdown, Whitstable or Sandwich, rest assured that you are in the right place!

However, we also understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up a multitude of questions about whether travel over the festive season is still possible – and safe.

So what are the latest rules that might apply to your Christmas holiday cottage booking in Kent?

Under constant review

Our friendly team at Keepers Cottages are constantly reviewing the latest Government guidance. And we are aware that things can change rapidly. So please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have.

Please note that since we are based in Kent, the following information applies to England only.

If you are looking to book holiday homes elsewhere in the UK, you will need to refer to each regional governments’ advice.

New COVID rules: What exactly is the 3 tier system?

As of October 12th 2020, there are now three local COVID alert levels in place in England:

One of the first things we advise that to do before booking your holiday is to use the Postcode Checker to find out the current status of your own area, as well as that of the area you want to go to.

UK Government advice on coronavirus travel booking

Once you have confirmed which tier you are in and that of the location you are planning on visiting, make sure to follow Government advice on safeguarding your holiday.

In addition to this, Keepers Cottages can help with the following:

  • Check with us for information about availability and the safety measures we have put in place. As each property is unique, these may vary slightly. We pride ourselves on our personalised approach, so please do get in touch.
  • Read the advice of Kent County Council and follow all local health measures in place during your journey and in your destination.
  • Talk to us about your cancellation rights.

Medium COVID alert level areas (Tier 1)

At the moment, Kent is a medium COVID alert level area.

Also known as Tier 1, this alert is given to the lowest risk areas.

In medium risk (Tier 1) areas, the advice on travel remains largely the same as before the new rules were introduced:

“You should aim to walk or cycle if you can, but where that is not possible you can use public transport or drive […] avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or your support bubble.”

This means you will need to put some thought into where you are booking your holiday cottage so you can plan how to reach it.

High COVID alert level areas (Tier 2)

Tier 2 areas present a high risk for COVID transmission.

Nevertheless, the Government is clear that “You can still go on holiday outside of high alert level areas, but you must only do this with people in your household or support bubble.”

The advice continues: “You should also avoid travelling to any part of the country subject to very high local COVID alert levels.”

As long as Kent remains a Tier 1 area, your Christmas booking would still be viable, even if you are travelling from a High alert level area.

However, should Kent become a Tier 3 area, it would be against the guidance to keep your booking with us.

In this unlikely scenario, we would urge you to contact us before making any changes to your booking.

Very high COVID alert level areas (Tier 3)

The Government is currently advising people not to travel into or out of an area if it has been categorised as a very high alert level area (Tier 3).

The Government website makes it clear that you can only travel into or out of very high alert level areas if you need to for:

  • work
  • education
  • to access youth services
  • because of caring responsibilities
  • or as part of a longer journey

This clearly does not cover holidays.

However, if you live in a lower risk area and want to holiday in a lower risk area, but to do so you would need to pass through a higher risk area, this is currently acceptable.

Regretfully, as Government advice is not to travel out of a Tier 3 area, we cannot advise people in Tier 3 areas to book one of our holiday homes until their area drops down to Tier 2 or Tier 1.

Rule of 6 and Support Bubbles

The latest guidance extends September’s “Rule of 6” and clarifies what is considered a Support Bubble.

In Medium risk areas (Tier 1), you can meet with up to six people (including children) indoors or outdoors.

However, you cannot stay with them overnight unless you are part of a Support Bubble.

When it comes to booking a holiday cottage for Christmas, those staying should be from one single household (including Support Bubbles) only.

There are some limited exceptions to this rule, such as “for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians”.

These can be found on the webpages for each COVID alert level area.

Cleaning holiday cottages for COVID rules

Ensuring that your holiday cottage is Covid-secure remains a top priority for us all at Keepers Cottages.

For further information on how we do this, you might like to refer to our in-depth blog post, Changes to holiday cottage cleaning following Covid-19.

We hope this will bring you peace of mind that we are doing everything in our power to make your stay on the Kent Coast as safe as possible.

About Phoebe Shipton

Having studied Marketing at University of Manchester, Phoebe joined the family business in 2020 as Head of Marketing and Operations. Phoebe is focused on making Keepers Cottages stand out, as well as ensuring the bookings flood in!

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