In a bid to stem coronavirus outbreaks, some areas experiencing an increase in cases have been placed in local lockdown with tightened restrictions. This means that residents of those areas must stay at home under Government advice. But how does this affect holiday plans? What are your local lockdown travel rights? Can you travel into a lockdown area?
In a nutshell, holidays are not essential travel and are therefore not considered a reasonable excuse for leaving the area. This means that if you need to cancel your holiday then you are unlikely to be able to get a refund for a number of reasons if your area is in lockdown.
What are my travel rights in local lockdown?
It is not the fault of the company or the travel provider if you can’t travel 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.
What options do I have if I cannot travel due to local lockdown restrictions?
There are three avenues you could explore if you are unable to travel due to local lockdown restrictions:
Contact the hotel/airline or travel/package holiday provider and try to negotiate either a postponement of your 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.
Should you stay or should you go?
Unfortunately travel is currently a risky game of roulette. Not necessarily in terms of exposure to the virus but because of how quickly new restrictions can be introduced and the impact of them.
If you do book a holiday or trip then you need to be prepared to take the hit should your area be placed into local lockdown or FCDO advice changes. More information about the latest travel exemption updates and what checks you should make before making that booking are covered here and official government advices regarding holidays in areas under local lockdown restrictions can be found via this link.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, please do take care and stay safe.