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Coronavirus - the latest travel advice and information

Travel is not currently possible both internationally and domestically for UK holidaymakers.

That's why we thought it would be handy to collect together the latest holiday advice and information about how the Coronavirus will affect your holiday or travel plans and what to do in the future.

We'll keep you up to date on where you can go on holiday and the quarantine requirements in both the UK and holiday destinations.

We'll also outline your options if you have already booked a holiday, safety precautions if you plan to travel and the latest information if you have a cruise planned, will travel by flight or have a package holiday booked.

Can I go on holiday?

Can I go on holiday abroad under lockdown?

Under current UK government restrictions, it is illegal to travel abroad for a holiday.

The Government introduced lockdown for the third time in January 2021. This has affected many people who had flights and holidays booked. Below we'll answer the most pressing questions surrounding travel and holidays under the second lockdown.

Am I allowed to go on holiday in the UK during lockdown?

Lockdown rules have made travel for the reason of going on a holiday illegal. That means that no, you're not allowed to go on holiday either abroad or in the UK. If you have a second home in England you are not allowed to travel there and travel in general should be kept to an absolute minimum. International travel is currently illegal without a valid reason and faces a fine of £5,000. International travel will once again be possible in June at the earliest.

Are flights going ahead through lockdown?

Flights are not automatically cancelled and operators are running at about 30% of their normal schedule. That's because there are many people, including UK citizens, with flights booked back to the UK. Check with your operator whether the flight is going ahead. However, even if the flight is going ahead you are not allowed to fly if you're going for the reason of a holiday.

Can I get a refund for my flight?

That depends. If you booked the flights separately and they are going ahead then you probably won't get a refund. However, many airlines will allow you to change the flight dates free of charge. Check here for our overview at the different lockdown refund policies of airlines. If your flight is cancelled then you should be entitled to a refund or you can change your departure date. If you've booked a package holiday then it's best to contact your provider directly.

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Quarantine in the UK

From 15 February onwards, everyone who is allowed to enter England from outside the Common Travel Area (Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) must:

  • quarantine for 10 days

  • take a Covid-19 test on day 2 and day 8 of quarantining

  • follow the national lockdown rules

For the most up to date information about quarantining, visit the gov.uk website.

Test to release scheme

You may be able to end self-isolation early through the Test to Release scheme if you pay for a private Covid-19 test.

The earliest you can take a test is 5 days after you arrive in England and then you can pay for a private test. If the test is positive, you will have to self-isolate for another 10 days.

This must be done privately and not with NHS Test & Trace and is only possible for travellers from 'green' countries.

For up to date information about this, visit the gov.uk website.

UK roadmap out of lockdown restrictions

Lockdown restrictions have begun to be eased across the UK but they do vary between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.

The below is very much subject to change at short notice and these are the earliest potential dates of things changing.

What is England's roadmap plan?

England, at time of publish, has the most comprehensive plan.

From 12 April (earliest):

  • Members of the same house can take a holiday together within the UK in self-contained accommodation (with no shared facilities)

From 17 May (earliest):

  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen

  • International leisure travel may resume

What is Scotland's roadmap plan?

From 26 April:

  • Scotland will return to the levels system of local restrictions, with the whole country starting off in level three "if the data allows"

  • Travel within mainland Scotland will be allowed

  • Tourist accommodation can open with restrictions in place

The earliest potential date for international travel would be 17 May in Scotland but Nicola Sturgeon has said this is unlikely.

What is Northern Ireland's roadmap plan?

Northern Ireland will release their roadmap in the coming weeks.

What is Wales' roadmap plan?

From 27 March:

  • Self-contained accommodation will be able to reopen provided Covid numbers remain low

What are the 'Red list' countries?

  • Angola

  • Argentina

  • Bolivia

  • Botswana

  • Brazil

  • Burundi

  • Cape Verde

  • Chile

  • Colombia

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Ecuador

  • Eswatini

  • Ethiopia

  • French Guiana

  • Guyana

  • Lesotho

  • Malawi

  • Mozambique

  • Namibia

  • Oman

  • Panama

  • Paraguay

  • Peru

  • Qatar

  • Rwanda

  • Seychelles

  • Somalia

  • South Africa

  • Suriname

  • Tanzania

  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)

  • Uruguay

  • Venezuela

  • Zambia

  • Zimbabwe

This list was updated on 20 March. For the most up to date information, visit gov.uk.

Where you can go and (hopefully) when

Below we have listed the countries which will (hopefully) be open to UK holidaymakers when international leisure travel begins again.

Please note: most destinations require a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.

  • Greece | Negative PCR test or proof of vaccination

  • Maldives | Negative PCR test

  • Barbados | Negative PCR test & 4-5 hotel quarantine

  • Iceland | No test/quarantine with proof of vaccination

  • Portugal | Negative PCR test or proof of vaccination

  • Cyprus | Negative PCR test or proof of vaccination

  • Seychelles | Proof of two doses of vaccination

Summer holidays 2021 - What you need to know

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Flights

Can I cancel my flight and get a refund?

If travel to your destination is not possible either because of lockdown or the Government warning against travel there then your flight will likely be cancelled. If not, you should be able to either cancel or rebook. However, make sure to talk to the operator first, as if the flight is still going ahead cancelling is usually not an option if you want a refund.

Can I rebook my flights?

Most airlines are now waving rebooking fees. If your destination gets added to the red zone list or your flight gets cancelled you will have the option to either get a refund or rebook for a later date at no cost.

What if my flights get cancelled?

If you have your flight cancelled by the airline they will reimburse you the price of your cancelled ticket in full.

Most airlines, including British Airways, will allow you to rebook instead of receiving a refund. Contact your airline to discuss rebooking options.

Will cruises start again in summer 2021?

Cruises are on hold in the UK due to the current lockdown. However, major operators have announced routes starting again in summer 2021. Generally, those looking to go on a cruise won't be able to until late summer, much later than people in other parts of the world.

Carnival will generally begin cruises on June 1 2021 although there are some earlier exceptions.

Norwegian will resume its programme starting July 1 2021.

P&O will begin domestic routes on June 27 2021.

Princess Cruises will start again on May 15 2021 but some routes will start later. Regular UK cruises and a new short UK route will not start until September.

Disney Cruise line will kick off on June 21 although the Disney Magic European cruise starts on August 11.

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Package holidays - the essential information

So you have booked a package holiday and are unsure of your rights? Below we'll go through some of the most frequent questions concerning the coronavirus and package holidays. We will keep updating this page with any new information and advice so check back if you have more questions.

As we mentioned above with flights, check the FCO website to see if your travel plans are affected. The FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to many countries across Europe and the world. With the current state of things, it's very likely your holiday plans are affected.

As a traveller you are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country you are travelling to, and be advised that health screening procedures have been put in place at arrival and departure airports in many countries.

Some of the world's biggest tour operators suspended operations altogether at points in 2020. TUI has suspended cruises, hotels and package holidays indefinitely as a measure to ensure the safety of its customers.

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My travel plans are affected - what are my rights?

If you have booked a package holiday to any of the destinations listed on the FCO website, or if the FCO advice changes due to coronavirus, you should contact your travel agent or tour operator (unless you’ve heard from them already).

Terms and conditions will differ between different travel companies, but they should offer to either reimburse the cost of your holiday, offer alternative travel dates, or offer an alternative travel destination.

It should be noted that this generally applies when you are due for ‘imminent travel’ – meaning that your package holiday is due to depart in the next few days. (Tour operators will decide on an ongoing basis how far in advance they’ll begin offering alternative arrangements/providing refunds.)

Airlines and operators are obligated to follow official FCO travel advice. Now that the FCO warns against travelling to major holiday destinations like Spain, Portugal and Italy, you are much more likely to receive a full refund or rebook without charge.

However, this may just be for the flights. Many operators have maintained their policy that cancellations made for reasons outside of the operator's control - such as a virus outbreak - are not reason for compensation. If you are looking to recoup hotel costs talk to your provider and travel insurer for your rights. Most package operators are allowing customers to rebook their accommodation at a later date. If you want to do this, rearrange your flights and then contact your supplier or edit the details in the manage my booking section online. However, with the situation developing daily, it's impossible to say when countries will lift entry bans.

Contact your travel insurance provider

If you are unable to claim any costs from your tour operator you should check with your travel insurance provider. Some companies will offer to cover for cancellation if the FCO advises against travel to your travel destination. As outlined above it should be noted that cancelling due to the fear of getting the virus (or any other illness), is generally not covered. If you decide to travel against the advice of the FCO, your policy will most likely be void.

We'll go through the important information related to travel insurance below.

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Does my travel insurance cover Coronavirus cancellations?

Generally, travel insurers will only issue compensation under specific circumstances. These are:

  1. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office explicitly advises against travelling to a booked destination

  2. Your insurance policy includes Travel Disruption Cover

  3. You have already attempted to arrange a refund or change dates with the booked airline or provider

The FCO has now advised against any travel whatsoever and this makes things a little simpler for those with existing travel insurance packages. You should be entitled to a refund from your insurer in line with their terms and conditions. Most insurers will require you to have travel disruption cover in your package.

Most travel insurers exclude epidemics or pandemics from their packages. That means you're most likely not entitled to a refund simply due to fear of travelling because of the virus. There are always exceptions and you should always read the small print of your travel insurance policy. If you have an existing health condition or a weak immune system then you may be entitled to a refund. Consult your doctor and provide a doctor's note to your insurer. Another important part of most insurance policies is that they cover for unexpected events. That means that if you take out insurance for a destination after a Coronavirus outbreak or after the Government advises against travelling, then claims will probably not be considered.

Some insurers are offering special considerations due to the outbreak. Some will cover hotel and other costs if your flights have been cancelled. If this is the case, you should first approach the airline and accommodation providers for a refund. If you receive no refund or a partial refund, you can then contact your travel insurer. See our information on flights above.

Travel insurance - Tips and advice

  1. Book your travel insurance asap - Most people usually wait until very close to their holiday to book travel insurance. However, most insurers will only cover cancellations if you had your policy before the FCO advises against travelling to a destination.

  2. Opt for Travel Disruption Cover - Airlines are now cancelling flights which means you might not be able to reach your destination. Flight costs should be covered by the airline, but what about other costs, like hotels and care hires? Travel insurers can cover these costs but usually only if you purchase an add-on often called Travel Disruption Cover

  3. Check when your annual cover expires - Make sure your annual policy doesn't expire before your departure date. You can either renew your current policy or take out a single trip policy that will cover you until you can sort out a new annual policy.

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