The UK Government is working in close collaboration with international colleagues and the World Health Organization to monitor the situation around the world and to limit the impact of the coronavirus with the health and safety of people rightly the priority.
Latest travel information and advice
- British Airways – Has announced that, as it is currently experiencing extremely high call volumes, to not call or message unless customers are travelling in the next 72 hours so they can help those needing urgent rebooking. Customers with questions relating to COVID-19 are asked to check its FAQs or to find out more about its flexible booking options by visiting its book with confidence section. Customers are also advised to check the Foreign Office website for the latest travel restrictions before flying.
- Virgin Atlantic – Has also asked customers that, due to extremely high volume of customers needing assistance, it is asking that unless customers are travelling in the next 72 hours they refrain from contacting them, to prioritise customers who are travelling imminently. It has also introduced a flexible no change fees policy.
- easyJet travel advice – It also advising customers that it is currently experiencing extremely high call volumes. To reduce waiting times, it has asked customers to contact them within 48 hours of their departure date. Its terms and conditions policy is available here https://www.easyjet.com/en/terms-and-conditions.easyJet also has a dedicated section on its website re: its policies for certain destinations affected by flight disruption regarding COVID-19. Please also check its flight tracker for specific updates about your flight. Also, easyJet customers who wish to change their travel plans can now transfer their flights to alternative dates and/or an alternative destination without a change fee.
- RyanAir has announced that it will waive the flight change fee (for all new and existing bookings from 13th March until 31st March) for customers who wish to change their travel plans due to COVID-19. Information about any flight changes due to COVID-19 is available here. It has also announced that it is reducing flights to/from Spain from Monday 16 March to Thursday 19 March. All affected customers will receive an email notification informing them of their options. Also, all Ryanair Group flights to and from Poland are cancelled from Sunday 15 March to Tuesday 31 March. Affected customers will receive an email notification informing them of their options
- Norwegian has also asked that if customers are not booked to travel in the next three days then to please contact them at a later date due to the high volumes of enquiries with wait times for assistance long. It has also issued a message for passengers departing Schengen airports - with web and self-service check-in for all passengers departing Schengen airports not available for the foreseeable future. Please see its website for more information.
- Tui Group has announced that is has suspended the majority of its travel operations until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Advice from government Authorities
- The Home Office and UKVI have issued immigration guidance for individuals in the UK who are unable to return to China.
- British people travelling and living overseas following the outbreak of novel coronavirus should check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice.
- Chinese authorities have ordered all their national travel agencies and online travel companies to temporarily suspend business, leisure, group travel and ‘ticket and hotel’ products effective immediately. Whilst individual travel has not been mentioned specifically, the authorities are keen to ensure that the disease is contained.
Latest advice for businesses
We also know that tourists affected will be very disappointed that they cannot go through with their travel plans and in line with requests from the Chinese Government and consumers fair cancellation/rebooking policies are advised. We have seen some great examples of industry best practice such as accommodation providers, airlines, train operators offering free cancellations or the ability to rebook to Chinese and other guests affected, easing some of their worry and helping to support their future plans to visit Britain. We know that goodwill created now will stand the industry in good stead for when the suspension is over.
- In the 2020 budget the UK Government announced support for businesses affected by COVID-19.
- The UK Government has issued COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses.
- The UK Government announced in a press release on 4 March that statutory sick pay will be made available from day one when self-isolating.
- We sent out a message of reassurance and welcome to Chinese travel operators in China on 3 February to help maintain our relationship with this valuable market which you are welcome to repurpose.
- The Department for Transport has issued guidance for staff in the transport sector, much of which seems transferable to the tourism sector.
- The World Health Organisation has issued interim guidance for organisers of mass-gatherings.
Latest advice for visitors
- The guidance for COVID-19: specified countries and areas with implications for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK in the last 14 days was withdrawn on 13 March 2020. This content has been superseded by information in COVID-19: stay at home guidance. This covers the current situation in the UK and abroad and advice for visitors travelling to the UK from destinations around the world.
- Check the latest travel health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website.