For the first time since the UK went into lockdown on March 23, 2020, England’s Youth Hostels are set to reopen their doors to guests. YHA, the organisation that manages England and Wales’s network of 153 hostels, will begin a phased reopening of selected properties from July 17 – albeit with some limitations.
“People are going to be desperate for social interaction and the outdoors – climbing mountains, going to the coast, seeing heritage in cities,” said YHA CEO James Blake in a report in the Guardian. “I’m not worried about there being a lack of demand. The issue is, during this period, until there is a vaccine or social distancing ends, we will be constrained in what we can offer.”
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That means no beds in shared dorms, though they will be used for family bookings. Thirty hostels with private rooms (many of them en suite) will also be included in the initial reopening, along with 63 sites for private hire, and camping pods and cabins.
In keeping with government guidelines, communal areas such as restaurants, kitchens, lounges, laundry rooms and locker rooms will remain closed, though tea points and takeaways may be available. The YHA is also introducing internal signage to help maintain social distancing, hand sanitizer points and enhanced cleaning protocols to help keep guests safe.
“For the first time in our 90-year history, we are encouraging people not to be social,” said Blake. “What we are fundamentally about will be so valued and valuable to people. People are natural travellers. They like exploring and adventure. As soon as it’s safe to do so, people will come back – that’s been our experience in past crises, through foot and mouth and international terrorism. Things like that look really disruptive but people return, and we’ve always come through stronger.”
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In a previous life, Richard spent over a decade on market-leading sci-fi/fantasy magazine SFX, where he talked movies, TV and books with some of the biggest names in the genre. Having swapped Star Wars and Star Trek for the great outdoors, he's worked on Advnture since it launched in July 2020, and looks after the day-to-day running of the site.