The introduction of a three tier system and increased restrictions in England to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus has placed further uncertainty on travel plans leaving many now not sure where they can go, if they can go and who with. What does the new three-tier system mean for your half term holiday?
The good news is that half term holidays are still possible but the not so good news is that depending on which tier you live in, there may be restrictions in place as to where you can go and who with.
- You may travel to any areas in England, which are also in Tier 1, and to certain areas in Scotland and Wales subject to any local restrictions.
- You may stay overnight in other Tier 1 areas.
- You are advised not to travel to and from areas in higher tiers unless journeys are essential.
- You may stay in private accommodation with others but social distancing and the rule of six still apply.
- Stays in hotels and B & B’s with other households are permitted but only if facilities are not shared.
- Social distancing rules must be observed.
- Travel must be kept to a minimum.
- Holidays may be taken in a Tier 1 or 2 area but they must be with members of your own household.
- You cannot share accommodation with other households or socialise with them indoors.
- You are advised not to travel to or stay overnight in a Tier 3 area.
- Residents should not travel outside their area and should not go on holiday or stay overnight in other areas.
- People from lower tier areas are advised not to stay overnight in a Tier 3 area.
There is currently no three-tier system in Wales and Scotland although this could change. In Scotland you may currently stay in holiday accommodation with only with members of a single household. Hotels and restaurants may remain open beyond 6pm for residents but no alcohol can be served after this time.
A number of local restrictions are in place in Wales, which mean that you can only enter or leave certain areas if your journey is essential. Currently you can book half term holidays with members of your own household or extended household in self contained accommodation, hotels, B & B’s and campsites. You are not permitted to enter Wales from areas where there are higher Covid infection rates across the UK. This applies to Tier 2 and Tier 3 regions.
If you are not able to take your holiday because restrictions at your destination cause it to be cancelled then a refund would be applicable. Alternatively you can opt to postpone your trip instead.
However please note that if your own area is in local lockdown then holidays are NOT deemed as essential travel and are therefore not considered a reasonable excuse for leaving the area. If you need to cancel your holiday as a result then you are unlikely to be able to get a refund for a number of reasons:
It is not the fault of the company or the travel provider if you can’t travel during half term due to local lockdown. The delivery of the holiday is not affected; it is still available to be enjoyed. It’s just that you are not allowed to take it. The company in question is within its rights to charge cancellation rates accordingly and is not obliged to offer a refund.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. There are a number of exemptions but please do note that these can change with little notice. Cancellation of your holiday due to local lockdown is not due to a change in FCDO advice, which deems a country, as being of high risk to travellers so the right to a refund would not be applicable.
If you are unable to travel due to local lockdown restrictions then you could:
Contact the hotel/airline or travel/package holiday provider and try to negotiate either a postponement of your half term holiday or an alternate holiday, You are unlikely to receive a refund.
Check the Tc’s and C’s of your original booking as your success in obtaining any kind of refund or being able to amend your trip could depend on them. Companies are being encouraged to be as flexible as possible in this respect but at the end of the day you are at the mercy of and subject to the policies and flexibility of the provider you are dealing with.
Check the wording of your travel insurance policy. If Coronavirus not excluded then you may have a claim on medical grounds but this is doubtful. It is not advisable to travel without travel insurance so doing so against government advice will invalidate your policy should issues arise during the trip.
All up to date information about the latest local restrictions can be found via the official gov.uk website.