With cases of Coronavirus being reported in specific locations in a number of countries throughout the world, it is very important that travellers are aware of affected areas and stay up to date with Foreign Office travel advice. Here is everything you need to know as of Thursday 27/02/2020:
- The FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to mainland China, Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea and 11 towns in Italy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo, San Fiorano and Vo’ Euganeo).
- Travellers are advised to stay up to date with the UK Foreign Office travel advice which is updated regularly here.
- Although the overall volume of reported cases is very low, with the majority in China, some destination authorities have introduced enhanced health measures, so it is very important that travellers follow the public health advice relating to a local destination that they are travelling to.
Travellers should also keep up to date on local advice during their visit.
Q:What happens if my travel plans are affected?
A: Your travel plans may be affected in different ways, depending on Foreign Office advice. If the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against travel to a destination and your holiday arrangements have been affected, your travel provider will get in touch and advise you of the options open to you. Travellers are advised to read the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice for the country they are travelling to, which includes a link through to the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) TravelHealthPro website that provides specific travel health advice for countries. The Foreign Office also has a specific page with more information on Coronavirus.
Where the Foreign Office advises against travel to a country or a specific resort or area of a country the following applies:
Q: Does my tour operator have to refund the full package or only the parts of my holiday that are cancelled?
A: Tour operators can offer alternative holidays if they are able to. If these mean a significant change to the original arrangements, for example spending the whole or part of the holiday in a different country, you aren’t obliged to accept the alternative and will be entitled to a full refund of the package price.
Q: When am I not entitled to a full refund?
A: If you have booked a package and are not due to travel imminently, tour operators will decide on an ongoing basis how far in advance they’ll begin offering alternative arrangements or providing refunds. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice is in relation to imminent departures and it is too early to say that your holiday can’t go ahead as planned. Therefore, customers with future departure dates will be required to wait to find out whether the advice changes and their holiday can continue as planned. If you cancel early you may have to pay cancellation charges.
Q: If I cannot follow my initial travel plans due to the Coronavirus outbreak, am I entitled to compensation?
A: You won’t be entitled to any compensation, as the reason for the holiday not continuing is outside the control of the tour operator.
Q: I’ve booked a flight to a country where the Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to a country or a specific resort or area of the country, what are my rights?
A: Speak to your airline or travel provider to check what the airline’s policy is. You should also check your travel insurance to see if this will cover any additional costs.
Q: What if I'm unsure about going on my holiday?
A: Most destinations do not have any British Government advice against travel. If there is no advice against travel to your destination, if you don't want to go, you’re free to make that choice, but there's no obligation on your holiday company to give you a refund. Normal cancellation charges will apply. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to claim any cancellation charge on your insurance as there isn’t normally cover for disinclination to travel but you can check the terms of your policy.