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Overcrowded, overpriced and overwhelmed. The UK's Covid-19 staycation nightmare

August 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 08: Brighton beach is packed as the South of England basks in a summer heatwave on August 08, 2020 in Brighton, United Kingdom. Parts of England are enjoying a three-day heatwave with temperatures set to reach up to 38 degrees centigrade in the South East. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

After months of lockdown, a summer break should've been a chance for Brits to relax. Instead, with limited foreign travel options, huge demand for staycations has led to ugly scenes around the United Kingdom.

Johnson, who himself is said to be planning a two-week stay in Scotland, has advised people to visit "peerless, wonderful, superlative places in the UK," rather than heading abroad.

When the last weekend of June saw the UK swelter in a 30 C (86 F) heatwave, an estimated half a million people headed to Dorset, a coastal region in southern England, as lockdown restrictions frayed.

"Brighton has always had an issue with beach visitors leaving rubbish, but at the end of June, the seafront became a destination for people coming out of lockdown," she says.

"When we tried looking for Airbnb places to stay, many of them were completely booked up until October," she says.

"We're saying very strongly, 'book accommodation before you come'," says Malcolm Bell, CEO of Visit Cornwall.

More affordable and potentially safer from coronavirus, the boom has seen tent sales rise 126% according to price comparison service Price Spy. However, this popularity has seen many official campsites booked out for summer, leading some to try their hand at so-called "wild camping. "

In the Lake District, a national park in northwestern England, authorities spoke to 200 people wild camping on one night in late June, including 20 people having a party on the summit of Catbells, one of its most popular mountains.

"Wild camping is legal in Scotland and parts of Dartmoor National Park, but everywhere else people are supposed to ask permission of the landowner," explains Phoebe Smith, author of "Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper. "

Smith says the scenes from throughout the summer in the Lake District and parts of Cornwall are not, in fact, wild camping, which involves taking minimal kit and going to remote places.

"People are told by the government to go to these places and spend money, that it's their duty to help save the economy, but they're traveling with no guidance," she says.

"We're the third lowest place for Covid in the country," says Malcolm Bell of Visit Cornwall.

While Bell says visitor numbers are down about 30,000 compared with an average year, there are still around 150,000 visitors in Cornwall on any one day.

He says he's concerned that many people are trying to cram a break in before a potential second national lockdown, a prospect the UK government has downplayed despite new cases hovering around 1,000 a day.

"Bike-packing enables people to find hidden spots and get away from the crowds, while keeping fit and traveling with everything they need," says Luke Green from Red Original, an outdoor equipment company.

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