Coronavirus: 10.5 million motorists planning overnight stay on Saturday as lockdown eased, poll finds

30 June 2020, 07:42 | Updated: 30 June 2020, 14:46

More than 10 million motorists will be escaping their homes to make an overnight trip as coronavirus lockdown rules are eased this Saturday, a survey suggests.

From 4 July, restrictions are being lifted in England which will allow people to stay overnight at hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites - as well as with relatives.

Around a third of drivers (31%) - some 10.5 million - will be using a car to get away, according to research by the RAC, which says it could be the busiest weekend of the year so far on the roads.

Its survey of 1,400 drivers suggests 11% will spend the night at a family member's home for the first time in three months, 8% will be at a friend's home and 6% will go camping.

Dubbed "Super Saturday" - gatherings of two different households will be permitted to take place indoors from the date, meaning families and friends will be reunited and overnight stays allowed - provided social distancing is maintained.

The two-metre social distancing rule will be reduced to "one-metre plus" and pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and barbers will be able to reopen.

Wedding services of up to 30 people will be allowed with places of worship permitted to reopen, and most leisure facilities and tourist attractions can reopen, so long as a range of safety measures to ensure they are "COVID secure" are introduced.

RAC breakdown 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."

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He added: "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 is advising motorists to carry out a series of checks before hitting the road, including tyre condition and pressure, and oil and coolant levels.