Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Coronavirus: Travel rules after England goes into second lockdown on Thursday

People in England are being told to avoid all non-essential travel in the UK and abroad as part of a new month-long lockdown.

This means from 5 November to 2 December, foreign holidays and overnight stays anywhere in the UK are banned.

The government’s decision to impose a second coronavirus lockdown in England will leave thousands with November travel plans disappointed.

But what happens if you’re already abroad and will people be entitled to refunds?

Here Sky News answers all your travel questions.

Will I be able to go on holiday?

No. The government has said people in England should stay at home during the lockdown period unless they are going to work, school, a medical appointment or getting food and essential supplies.

Holidays and overnight stays away from your home – or that of your support bubble – are banned. This includes travelling to a second home in the UK or abroad.

People in England will only be allowed to leave the UK if they have to for work.

What if I’m booked to go away before 5 November?

England’s lockdown begins on Thursday 5 November, so the rules only apply from 0.01am that day.

This means you can fly out of the UK before then, but may be subject to quarantines both when you arrive at your destination and when you come back.

Although airlines are operating normal flight schedules before lockdown is imposed, they will be heavily reduced in November.

So if you are returning to England during lockdown, your travel plans are likely to be disrupted.

What happens if I’m already abroad?

People who live in England who are already abroad are not obliged to travel home before lockdown.

Passengers arriving home before 5 November will be able to travel back as normal as flights are operating at regular capacity.

But those due to come home after that could have their travel plans disrupted as less flights will be operating.

You will only have to quarantine if the destination you are returning from is not on the UK travel corridor list.

If I can’t go on holiday, will I get a refund?

Most planes due to take off from airports in England will be grounded during lockdown, as only people travelling for work will be allowed to fly.

If your flights are not running or you have a package holiday booked abroad you can’t go on, you are likely to be entitled to a refund.

Under European law, passengers who were due to travel into or out of England can get a refund within a week if their flights have been cancelled.

If you booked a package holiday with Jet2 or Tui that can’t go ahead, both operators have agreed to offer full refunds within two weeks.

Packages booked with other operators should check with them specifically.

If your flights are still going ahead – for example British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair have said they will operate up to 30% capacity during lockdown – you have no legal right to a refund.

Some airlines will offer vouchers to be used at a later date instead.

How long will it take to get my money back?

All UK passengers are protected by European laws that entitle them to a full cash refund for flights and holidays that can’t go ahead within 14 days.

But since the coronavirus outbreak, travel firms have faced unprecedented demand for refunds and have taken several weeks or months to give people their money back.

Can I claim on travel insurance?

You can only claim back on travel insurance if you took out your policy or booked the trip before March 2020 – when the coronavirus pandemic became a “known event”.

Will airports close?

No. England is not closing its borders, so people will be allowed to travel by plane within the UK and abroad for work.

But because of such a heavy drop in demand, airlines are reducing their flight schedules significantly, so it may be difficult to book a flight.

Will travel corridors continue?

Travel corridors were not mentioned in the prime minister’s lockdown announcement, but they are likely to continue for returning travellers.

So if you are landing in England from a country it has a corridor with, you will not be obliged to self-isolate for 14 days just because the country is in lockdown.

But if your destination is on the quarantine list, you must not leave your home at all for 14 days – even for the reasons permitted by the new measures.

Will hotels, hostels and holiday rentals stay open?

Hotels and hostels are only allowed to take guests who are travelling for work or one of the exemptions to the “stay at home” rule.

The government is yet to set out guidance on holiday rentals, but it is highly likely they will be forced to close, unless they can prove guests are staying for work or another reason permitted by law.

When will I be able to go abroad again?

The prime minister has said localised restrictions in England – or the tiered system – will resume on 2 December.

This means that large parts of Britain will be able to travel abroad again – but those in the highest risk areas will be strongly advised not to do so.

Are things different in other parts of the UK?

Large parts of Scotland, all of Wales and Northern Ireland are currently in lockdown.

The three nations have not closed their borders, but have similar restrictions on international travel to England – only allowing people to go abroad for work or a small number of other reasons.

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