An important and welcome clarification has been received from government regarding the operation of coach tours. The Tourism Alliance, of which the CTA (Coach Tourism Association) is a member, has been in contact with DCMS and has provided the following summary:
Update to coach operators and whether coach tours can go ahead
- “If it is possible to ensure that groups of more than six do not mingle on a tour, coach tours of over six people on the coach can go ahead. People must stay in their groups of up to six (or larger if they are from one household) on all parts of the tour – for example whilst in hospitality settings and when visiting attractions as well as whilst on the coach.”
To reinforce this, the DfT has now updated its Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators. This amends the guidance in accordance with the latest changes and includes the following statement which gives explicit backing for the continuation of coach tours and excursions in accordance with the required risk assessment and social distancing measures. It is also a requirement that the ‘rule of six’ is followed on arrival at all venues during a tour.
A key statement from the guidance states:
“These rules do not place any capacity constraints on public transport services, private hire vehicles or leisure tours. Operators should continue to provide transport services which can accommodate separate multiple groups of 6 people.”
If any member is experiencing problems with venues that are refusing to accept group bookings as a result of incorrectly interpreting the ‘rule of six’, we suggest you point them to the above statements from DCMS and DfT.
(There are clearly areas currently under local lockdowns where different rules apply.
One new development which may have an impact on groups is the introduction of a requirement for hospitality venues to display a QR code linked to the NHS Track and Trace app which is launched today. All venues will display a QR code which will enable visitors to ‘check in’ with their details via the app. Further advice may emerge on the use of this QR code and app and individual venues will have to continue to collect details of all visitors with other methods if they cannot use the app. Operators should continue to ensure that they have full customers lists available to share with any venues they visit during the course of a tour.