Here is our advice on the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation:-
At the time of writing countries around the world are preventing UK visitors from entering their country and at the same time the UK foreign office is advising against all but essntial travel to a number of countries. The latest position is always updated at:-
Foreign Office - Coronavirus advice
While the virus is likely to spread further over the coming weeks it is worth bearing in mind that Coronavirus is present and spreading in the UK and that there are a number of countries in the world that have a lower incidence of the virus than the UK. Your main risk is close contact with high volumes of people, which is more likely to occur when travelling between destinations rather than being on holiday at the destination itself. See below “What precautions should I take when I travel?”
Can I cancel or re-arrange my holiday plans?
If the foreign office advises against all but essential travel to a particular destination then you can cancel and the tour operator has to offer you a refund or a suitable alternative holiday to a different destination.
If the foreign office says that it is still safe to travel to a destination then you can cancel but you are likely to incur cancellation charges such as loss of deposit. However, currently a number of airlines and tour operators are being flexible with bookings and may give you a credit or allow you to change your holiday without extra charge. Please check with us for your particular situation.
Will my travel insurance cover me if I cancel because of Coronavirus?
You have to check the small print of your policy very carefully. Some will cover you and some won’t. If it doesn’t, then you may be able to buy an extension to cover it. If they don’t offer an extension then you might want to take out a new policy with another company, cancel your original policy and get a refund for the unexpired term.
It is worth noting that insurance companies may be changing their policies as we write this and so getting the right policy sooner rather than later may be advisable.
What precautions should I take when I travel?
As mentioned above you may well be travelling to a destination with a lower incidence of Coronavirus than the UK and so the destination may actually present a lower risk than your day to day life. The higher risk element is being with members of the public in close proximity on the journey such as on trains, planes and in airports.
The current advice is that the virus seems to be transmitted more through direct and indirect physical contact than airborne contagion and so you just need to make sure that any parts of your skin that come into contact with surfaces should be cleaned thoroughly and regularly. This is mainly your hands. We suggest thorough handwashing (20+ seconds in hot water with soap) and failing that use anti-bacterial/viral wipes or gels.
Should I be booking a holiday right now?
If you take these precautions then of course:-
• Don’t travel to areas where the foreign office has advised against all but essential travel. You might also want to be cautious and not travel to nearby areas in case the prohibition area expands, although this is obviously your choice.
• Wash your hands thoroughly if you have been touching surfaces that are frequented by a lot of people. This applies in the UK as well as overseas. If you don’t have access to soap/water then we recommend carrying anti-viral/bacterial wipes and gels. Make sure they are small enough to comply with liquid restrictions at airport security.
• Take out travel insurance when you book not when you travel and make sure that it covers you for cancellations on account of viral outbreaks.
• If you book a holiday get your travel adviser to check with the operator how flexible they are going to be if you change your mind/plans on account of Coronavirus.
If you are thinking of a holiday then ironically there may not be a better time to book. There are some extraordinary offers around at the moment to some amazing destinations which have no or virtual no incidence of Coronavirus. There are also operators being very willing to be flexible on cancellation terms should the situation change.
However it is of course completely your decision and we are here to help as much or as little as you like!