Original Travel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update - Thursday 26th March 2020
On 17th March the UK Government advised against all non-essential travel overseas, initially for a period of 30 days.
Under normal circumstances, when there is Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO - the UK equivalent of the State Department) advice against travel, our clients travelling on holidays classed as a package (where we have arranged two or more elements) in the affected period would be subject to the Package Travel Regulations, the Europe-wide directives governing the travel industry. However, in these exceptional circumstances we are currently facing, that is simply not possible.
We and other ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) members are offering our clients the option to move their holiday to a later date, asking that they find out if they have cover through their travel insurance, and offering credit notes or vouchers.
ABTA is in discussions with the Government on how support can be provided to its members and is lobbying the government strongly for temporary suspension of the Package Travel Directive given these unprecedented times.
In the meantime, the ABTA scheme of protection is now extended
to Refund Credit Notes, issued following the cancellation of travel
arrangements that were originally protected under the ABTA scheme
of protection because of the Covid-19 situation. Monies covered by
such Refund Credit Notes are protected in the event of the -
highly, highly unlikely - failure of Original Travel. This
protection will last until 31 July 2020.
Clients have the right to redeem the Refund Credit Note against a future booking with us. Refund Credit Notes must be issued within 14 days of the date of cancellation of the original booking and must be redeemed against a future booking by 31 July 2020.
The Refund Credit Notes issued by Original Travel will remain financially protected by the CAA for postponed holidays which included flights, for which clients would have received an ATOL Certificate at the time of booking. Similarly, Refund Credit Notes for holidays which did not include flights at the time of booking will also be protected by the bond Original Travel has put in place and which is held by ABTA.
Please note that, depending on the payment terms being applied by our suppliers, cancellation terms for postponed bookings may remain linked to the original departure date and may also, in some circumstances, require additional payments to secure the booking where only deposit payments have been made to date.
In the event that the Package Travel Regulations are amended temporarily to reflect the reality of the situation, we will review this guidance. We thank clients for their understanding with regard these temporary measures.
Original Travel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Statement - 3rd March 2020
What are the risks for travellers before, during and after a holiday?
Even in countries or regions where there has been an active spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), such as China, South Korea, Iran and now northern Italy, the risk of contagion remains, statistically, extremely minimal. In China, for example, roughly 80,000 cases have been confirmed by the authorities from a population of almost 1.5 billion, so roughly one in every 18,000 inhabitants.
The confirmed case figures released by the authorities of other countries, including Britain, remain much lower than those of seasonal flu epidemics so we, and the authorities, do urge a sense of perspective.
That said, and despite fake news and misinformation, it is extremely important that we as a travel company - and also as an extremely responsible employer - take the necessary precautions. We will follow the government and Chief Medical Officer's advice to the letter, and - as always - we monitor the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice for each and every destination to which we send clients.
As and when there are any changes to the advice that might affect your existing travel plans, or any plans you might be discussing with us, we will inform you and discuss the next steps.
For now, though, we do not recommend postponing or cancelling any trip, unless to one of the most seriously affected areas, in which case we will have already been in touch to discuss your travel plans.
What will happen on your return if you do travel? Currently thermal checks are only carried out on travellers from destinations where the coronavirus is widespread, including where you have taken a connecting flight. A rapid test will provide a diagnosis.
If you have recently travelled abroad, or believe you may have come into 'close and sustained' contact with someone infected with coronavirus, the recommendation is that you self-isolate for two weeks (the estimated incubation period for the virus) even if you are not showing any of the key symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing). Contact health authorities to be tested if you do develop symptoms.
One final note for now. Please remember that Original Travel are not health professionals, so we would strongly recommend that for expert opinion on coronavirus.