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An update from the Short Breaks service in relation to COVID-19

12 August 2020
An illustration of the coronavirus microscopically

We thank everyone for their understanding during this difficult time and urge everyone to keep following government guidance to keep themselves, their families and their young people safe and healthy.

Clubs and activities

With some of the newer government changes we have at last been able to resume some of the summer holiday clubs and activities. While they will look very different to normal with smaller groups, some shorter sessions, dedicated drop off and pick up slots we are very pleased with all the hard work the providers have carried out to allow them to open safely for all the children and young people but also the staff.  There has been some anxiety from parents about returning but generally feedback has been extremely positive for those sessions that have started over the last two weeks and all clubs have been so happy to welcome children back.

We continue having regular meetings with all our short breaks providers to ensure everyone is up to date with any changes but also to share good news, resources and ideas for activities.

Where online content has worked well, we are asking all providers to continue with this where possible. This is especially the case for children and young people who are either not able or not wanting to return to face-to-face contact. This is also so the case where some providers have not yet been able to open face to face sessions yet due to restrictions still at leisure centres and some other buildings.

Please do feel free to contact your normal club for further details.

Please read our lead provider Essex Short Breaks: Clubs & Activities latest 'Hot off the press' newsletter for further details.

Please also read the latest updates from all of our providers.


Our caravans reopened on Monday 6 July in line with government guidance.  We ask that payments are made no later than one week before your booking is due to take place.

We have been advised that the swimming pool has now re-opened, but it will have greatly reduced capacity and you must book a session when you arrive if you want to use it.  Sessions are getting very booked up due to limited numbers and the time of year so the site may not be able to accommodate you during your stay.

Please read our guidance for caravan parks to find out what will be different and what you and our teams will need to do to say safe.

Check-in times have been changed to 4pm to allow the cleaning team extra time, and you must adhere to the 10am check-out time.

Here are some extra safety measures we are taking in our caravan sites:

  • Each caravan will be provided with its own cleaning pack for use during your stay and this will include, antibacterial sprays, floor wipes, antibacterial hand wash etc. We will be asking all guests to use these during their stay. You will still need to bring your own tea towels and towels and take with you when you check out
  • Our cleaners will be deep cleaning and sanitising the caravans before each stay in fresh PPE for each caravan and no one else will be entering the caravans until you arrive
  • We have had to make the decision that we will not be able to provide duvets and pillows during your stay and you will need to bring these with you. Bed sheets only will be provided as we can ensure these are boil washed with hospital grade detergent. This is just not possible with the duvets, covers and pillows etc. To confirm you will need to bring duvets, pillows and covers for these
  • Coloured sacks will be in your cleaning pack and sheets must be stripped from the beds placed in the sack and left outside the caravan on your departure
  • All rubbish must be removed from the caravan before your departure and placed in the large bins located near the caravans
  • Any items left behind at the caravans will need to be disposed of, we are not able to keep anything so please make sure you double check all cupboards and under beds before you leave
  • All toys, games and DVD's will be removed from the caravans for the foreseeable future, sensory equipment like fibre optic tails etc will be available and sterilised in between stays
  • Please note day guests and visitors are not currently permitted. Only those within your booking are allowed on site and to access the caravan
  • All caravans have now had a key safe fitted to the caravan and no keys will be available from reception. Codes for the safe will be emailed with your check in information

If you are shielding or feel unable to go away for your short break please email as soon as possible with your booking reference number and we will cancel and refund your booking.

If you are displaying symptoms or have been in contact with anyone displaying symptoms, please do not attend your booking. The caravan sites have the right to remove anyone from the site or refuse entry if they believe them to be symptomatic and this would void your booking and refund.

If you'd like to make a booking, please visit our Book a caravan section and use your registered email address and passport ID number.

Max Cards and activity tickets

For Max Cards there is not an online solution for this as the card is a physical card which must be used at time of booking any discount through the Max Card website but also shown on the day of the visit. Currently we do not know if there will be any cards posted out this year but will reinstate as soon as we can.

For tickets we now have a virtual solution for Marsh Farm and Colchester Zoo but not Paradise Wildlife Park. With this in mind some families may wish to change their ticket preference. 

We have had new online forms created for tickets and max cards applications and would ask that everyone apply again so we have the correct choice for you all.

We are also asking that anyone who has moved or changed any contact details email with your correct details in advance of applying for tickets so we have the correct information.  You can apply for tickets but please remember Max Cards and Paradise will not be posted out.

Please see links below in relation to the three attractions we work with, with their updates on how COVID-19 is affecting them:

If you have already applied this year please do not apply again.  We are holding all of this years applications until we have a solution from the venues on how to proceed.

Beach huts

Our beach huts in Walton and Clacton re-opened from Monday 6 July. You can book a beach hut in the normal way in our Beach hut section using your registered email address and passport ID number.

If you are displaying symptoms or have been in touch with anyone displaying symptoms, please cancel your break to receive a refund. Please do not attend your visit if you are unwell.