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Monday 6 April 2020

Brits told to stay home during COVID-19

Britons have been told not to travel anywhere in the world, which has not gone down well with travel agents.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced over the weekend that it was extending its advice to avoid all but essential travel anywhere in the world for an indefinite period as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It had earlier said, on March 17, that Britons should avoid all non-essential travel for a month, effectively until April 16, forcing travel companies to cancel holidays at least until then, Travel Mole reports.

The latest update from the FCO has left travel agents wondering if this means that all future bookings must be cancelled since the Government hasn't indicated when it's safe for holidays to resume.

ABTA, the umbrella body for travel agents, has attempted to reassure members that the FCO update doesn't mean all holidays must be cancelled.

In a statement, it said: "Although the advice has now changed for an indefinite period, this is now in essence the same as any 'all but essential' travel advice and it could be removed at any time. As such there is no change to the advice for members and customers in this regard.

"Travel companies can still look at imminent departures and decide how far in advance they will begin to offer alternative arrangements/refunds or equivalent options."

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "While it is right the government extends its advice, the FCO's decision to make the time period indefinite will cause a huge amount of confusion for anyone who has foreign travel booked in the months ahead.

"The travel warning should be extended to a definitive date, which can be reviewed if needed, so that travellers have some much-needed clarity around refunds, rebooking or claiming on insurance.

"The government, travel sector and insurers must work together to ensure that any emergency measures introduced in response to this crisis include strong guarantees or protections to prevent consumers from losing their money if a travel firm fails."

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