Super Saturday: Caravan queues on M5 as 10 million motorists hit the road for holiday trips after lockdown eased

CARAVANS were queuing on the M5 this morning as 10 million motorists hit the road for holiday trips on Super Saturday.

The motorway was jammed with campers heading to the coast as coronavirus lockdown restrictions eased.

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There was also heavy traffic on the M25 in Kent and queues towards Devon and Cornwall as hotels, restaurants and pubs reopen and overnight stays are allowed.

Other traffic hotspots are expected to include the M25, M6, M5 and M1, according to AA data from route planner searches.

The Dartford Crossing and the Blackwall Tunnel in London are also predicted to be packed.

Cops are preparing for what is expected to be the busiest weekend on the roads this year.

Thousands of people left home to hit the holiday trail in Britain on Friday with many more travelling today.

Many were heading for the beaches in their caravans, camper vans – loaded with canoes and tents.

During coronavirus lockdown, traffic fell to levels not seen since the 1950s.

Now that restrictions will be eased, millions of people are planning to enjoy trips to other parts of the country.

Most will be using private cars rather than public transport to avoid being infected by coronavirus.

An RAC poll found that a third of all drivers in the UK will leave their homes this weekend for overnight stays.

A fifth of drivers – equal to 6.5 million – will stay with friends and family, while about two million will enjoy breaks at campsites.

One million will stay in hotels, bed and breakfasts or similar accommodation while 680,000 will be at caravan sites.

The RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: "These figures suggest that after 15 weeks of lockdown, a large proportion of drivers in England are desperate to reconnect with friends, family and indeed nature by staying overnight, be that in a house or on a camping or caravan site."

"This could lead to some busy conditions on the roads, with the location of queues likely to be dependent on just how far people travel – motorways and major A-roads could end up taking the brunt of the traffic if people have longer distances to drive to see family and friends or to take a weekend break.

"While our research suggests weekend traffic could be the heaviest of the year so far, a breakdown has the potential to make matters even worse."

The RAC surveyed 1,400 British drivers for its poll.

But not everyone was happy about the sudden rush to the coast.

Lorry driver Luke was caught up on the A30 and said: "It's absolutely crazy. We can't pull into any lay-bys because there are caravans in there.

"Every car going past in the fast lane is literally full of canoes, camping gear, trailer tents."

An Exeter resident caught up in the dash to the seaside said: "Avoid the M5 southbound. It's like a caravan park."

And one resident in village of Ide on the popular holiday route to Cornwall and Devon said: "For the first time in months you could hear the sound of traffic on these main routes from early in the morning.

"They have been so quiet since lockdown but Saturday saw the build up of caravans, campers and people in their cars with canoes on the roof racks and trailers."

The findings come as some popular tourist spots ban cars and close roads to allow for social distancing.

Last week, cops were forced to close the road leading to Camber Sands beach in East Sussex due to heavy traffic.

The queues for the car park were so long that cops closed the main road leading to the beach on Thursday.

Drivers queued for more than a mile on narrow roads to get to the beach a day before.

St Ives, along with areas in Falmouth and Truro in Cornwall, are other locations introducing new measures ahead of the holiday season.

Falmouth has already closed a number of streets in the busy town centre for a set number of hours since June 15, along with Truro, following the announcement that non-essential shops could open.

Truro Mayor Bert Biscoe said he hoped that it would allow locals to return as well as "encourage others to come," according to the Telegraph.

Closing the roads will allow visitors more room to visit the region, with many of the small towns having narrow pathways and thin streets which often become overcrowded during peak holiday seasons.

St Ives looks to be the next tourist town to follow in their footsteps, after new plans were introduced by the town council on Monday to stop road traffic between 11am and 4pm during summer.

Brits are rushing to book holidays for this weekend.

Hotel chain Best Western says it saw a 450 per cent spike in bookings last week, even before Boris Johnson's announcement about lockdown rules easing.

Rural and coastal destinations have proved the biggest hit, according to the hotel chain, with the most five most searched places as follows; Scotland, Northumberland, Devon and Cornwall, Yorkshire, and Norfolk.

Meanwhile cities have seen a big drop in searches with the least popular destinations made up of London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Chester.

Holidays have been off the table since the UK went into lockdown exactly three months ago.

And the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising against all but essential travel internationally.

But while English holidays are now back on the cards there will be some major changes.

At UK campsites, for example, there must be additional cleaning of shared facilities such as showers and toilets.

Some attractions at campsites and hotels will also have to remain closed, such as water parks, swimming pools and soft play areas.

In addition, guest houses, BnBs and holiday homes are likely to have extra cleaning, fewer guests, reduced menus and more dining al fresco.

Customers may also see the removal of mini-buffets, and the introduction of contactless check ins.

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