No Easter getaway rush expected, despite easing of lockdown rules

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·2-min read

Millions of people remain cautious about socialising over Easter despite lockdown rules being relaxed, a new survey suggests.

A quarter of the 1,200 drivers polled for the RAC said they are not planning a leisure trip by car over the bank holiday weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Motorists expect to make just 5.6 million trips by car to see friends and family between Good Friday and Easter Monday, the research indicates.

Easter is normally one of the busiest weekends of the year on UK roads, with 12.2 million leisure trips planned in 2019.

Lockdown restrictions in England are due to be eased from March 29, with two households or up to six people allowed to meet outdoors, and the formal end of the “stay at home” rule.

Wales will lift its “stay local” requirement on Saturday.

RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: “What is traditionally one of the busiest weekends for leisure trips in normal times could turn out to be anything but in 2021, with the pandemic continuing to have a big impact on drivers’ plans to see friends and family this Easter.

“The fact that meetings among family members or friends must be outdoors is very clearly on drivers’ minds.

“Nonetheless, it’s unlikely the roads will be empty of traffic over Easter, and if the weather turns out to be good, more people will inevitably jump in their cars for a trip at short notice, even if that’s just among members of the same household.”

The survey suggests there could be a surge in traffic during the second week of the Easter school holidays.

Drivers are planning 5.3 million leisure journeys between Friday April 9 and Sunday April 11.

Journeys are expected to peak on Monday April 12 at 2.3 million.

That is the earliest day that England’s restrictions could be further eased, with the reopening of self-catered accommodation and outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks.

Transport information analysts Inrix believe the worst congestion from a late Easter surge in road use could be on the A303 near Stonehenge, Wiltshire; the A3 and A205 in south London, the A66 near Keswick, Cumbria; and the M5 in north Somerset.

Mr Dennis continued: “We’re expecting to see greater numbers of people on the roads the weekend after Easter. Drivers have clearly got their eyes on Monday 12 April which is the earliest date when lockdown restrictions could be eased further.

“If the day does get confirmed by the Government, and it coincides with fine weather, there’s every chance we could see a real rush on the roads in some parts of the country.”