England’s roads are expected to be flooded with cars as 11 million drivers embark on post-lockdown overnight trips this weekend.
Some 31 per cent of motorists – equivalent to 10.5 million – have indicated they will take advantage of relaxed lockdown rules to spend the night away from home, an RAC poll shows.
Saturday will mark the first time in three months people in England have been allowed to stay the night somewhere other than their own home.
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The RAC survey of 1,400 drivers suggests that this weekend 11 per cent will stay over at a family member’s home, eight per cent will sleep at a friend’s home and 6 per cent will go camping.
A further six per cent will either spend the weekend at a caravan site, in self-catered accommodation or at a hotel, bed and breakfast or second home.
RAC Breakdown has warned motorways and major A-roads could bear the brunt of traffic as people scramble to get away for the weekend.
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 is advising motorists to carry out a series of checks before hitting the road, including tyre condition and pressure, and oil and coolant levels.
Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hotels will also be able to reopen in England from 4 July, when the two-metre social distancing rule will be slashed to one metre.
The announcement last Tuesday – which also covers museums, galleries and places of worship – amounted to the most significant loosening of restrictions since lockdown was introduced on 23 March and came as independent scientists warned the coronavirus infection rate remained too high to relax controls.
The new guidance will allow indoor gatherings of members of two households in homes, pubs and restaurants, as well as on holiday in shared accommodation or neighbouring tents.
Where possible, people should try to remain two metres apart, but otherwise should observe a “one metre plus” rule under which they stay one metre apart from others, while taking mitigating steps such as wearing face coverings and remaining side by side rather than face to face to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
Additional reporting by Press Association