How the latest England Travel Red List update will affect planned trips | Consumer rights

The British government has added six countries to the travel red list after the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus. At noon on Friday, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia are subject to restrictions and a temporary flight ban. Non-UK and Irish residents who have stayed in one of these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry to England. And the move will have an impact on everyone who is planning a trip.

What if i have to take a plane?

Direct passenger flights between the UK and the six countries were banned until 4 a.m. Sunday morning, to allow time for quarantine arrangements to be put in place in England. However, it’s worth keeping an eye out for messages from the airline you booked with in case the ban is extended or makes the decision to cancel subsequent flights.

If your flight is canceled, you must be contacted by the airline and refunded in full – you are not required to accept a voucher or alternative flight. The reimbursement is expected to be made within seven days, although since the start of the pandemic some airlines have taken much longer to reimburse, so be prepared to wait.

Refunds are not automatically offered on flights unless they are canceled. Therefore, if your flight continues and you do not wish to take it, you will need to contact the airline and find out about your options. “The good news is BA and Virgin, the two most popular carriers to South Africa, have good flexible booking policies – you can book at no charge for a later date or keep the money in voucher.” says Rory Boland, travel editor. to which ?. “It makes more sense to do the latter because you don’t know when travel will be possible again just yet. “

If the airline doesn’t pay, you may be able to claim your travel insurance. The National Construction Company, for example, says customers with a policy through its FlexPlus account are covered if they decide to cancel their trip due to quarantine requirements.

What about accommodation costs?

Travelers stranded in redlisted countries that now have to spend more on accommodation may be able to make a claim for their travel insurance – but should check the fine print. Last year, many insurers removed Covid-related coverage from their policies. And while some have added it this year, many have not. You may have to pay the bills yourself.

If you were to travel to one of the six countries added to the Red List this weekend and booked your accommodation separately from your flight, you could be losing money. It depends on the cancellation policy at the place where you plan to stay. Don’t just assume you won’t be able to rearrange or cancel – contact the hosting provider to see if they’re ready to come up with new dates.

Can my travel insurance help you?

Yes, if you have the right policy. Some providers have introduced Covid coverage this year, and if you’ve purchased any of these policies, you need to check what they will pay for. You may be able to claim unused accommodation or the cost of extending your stay if you are already abroad. For your flight, the airline has to pay so that it is not an insurance issue.

The British Foreign Office now advises against all but essential travel to these countries. Therefore, if you visit one of them, you will not be covered by your travel insurance.

Should I cancel my Christmas trip?

Not before reading the fine print of your reservations – if you are not in a free cancellation period on your accommodation and have to pay a fee to cancel or move your flight, you should stick to it unless you have decided that you do not want to travel. Indeed, if the airline has to cancel the flight, you will be entitled to a full refund. Likewise, if a package vacation provider has to cancel, they cannot withhold your money.

If the Foreign Ministry’s travel warning is still in place when you need to be away, you can cancel a package trip and get a full refund, even if the flights are back. Boland says tour operators “will only look up departure dates in the next few weeks and contact customers in order of departure. If your trip is several weeks or months away, the best advice is to do nothing just yet as the situation may change.

If I am traveling, do I have to be tested?

Anyone returning from a Red List country will need to take a Covid test within three days of their return, then quarantine themselves in a government-approved hotel for 10 days upon arrival, and pay for their stay there. . This will apply from November 27 in Scotland and November 28 in England. These rules apply even if you have been vaccinated.

While at the hotel, people will take Covid tests on the second and eighth day. The hotel costs £ 2,285 for an adult and £ 3,715 for a couple. The rate for children aged 5-11 is £ 325 each.

Anyone who has recently returned from redlisted countries will be contacted by NHS test and trace and asked to take a PCR test.

Is it unwise to book a vacation for next year?

Anyone booking a trip should make sure they are aware of the costs they will face if it needs to be canceled for any reason – this is true wherever you think you want to go. Insurers will not exclude countries from coverage simply because they were previously on the Red List. Some still appear to be selling policies, including Covid protection for travel to South Africa, although it is not clear whether they will pay if something goes wrong. Nationwide said of its policy: “Customers who book new travel while FCDO advice is still essential to travel will not be covered if they have to cancel their trip.”

Boland says, “There is still a risk of disruption wherever you plan to travel at this time. While redlist additions have grabbed headlines, several other countries have introduced new restrictions in recent weeks on curfews, testing and vaccination reminders that make vacations difficult, if not impossible. “

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