FURIOUS Brits face losing thousands as they struggle to get refunds for their Spanish holidays – as Boris Johnson today warned Europe is on the brink of a second wave.
Holiday plans for millions were thrown into chaos after an effective travel ban was slapped on Spain over the weekend due to a spike in coronavirus cases.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Mr Johnson said today that there were signs of a second wave of coronavirus in Europe as he defended the Government’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine restriction on those returning from Spain.
“What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again,” he said.
“Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.”
It comes as:
Package holidays should be refunded but those who have separately booked flights and accommodation are likely to lose out unless there are cancellations.
And even families with tour deals are fearing a ruined summer with uncertainty over whether they will get a full refund and if their trip will go ahead.
Mum-of-two Emma Fisher is due to fly to Lanzarote for 10 nights on August 26 with her partner Luke Stanley, 33, a self-employed plasterer and two kids Maisy, 10 and Jacob, 6.
Emma said: “You’re meant to be excited about holidays and you don’t know whether to be excited or not.
“We were watching the news on Saturday and just felt sick.
“If we can’t go then we’ll lose the money because Luke couldn’t afford to take the two weeks off and we couldn’t keep the kids out of school to quarantine. It’s like a rollercoaster.”
If current quarantine rules don’t change then they face losing their £3,500 all-inclusive booked with LoveHolidays.
The family has been unable to find out whether they can re-book or change the trip, which they booked in February this year.
LoveHolidays is currently offering refunds, vouchers or rebookings for holidaymakers travelling to Spain and Spanish Islands before August 17.
But as the family are due to travel the following week they are unsure whether their trip will go ahead.
Small business owner James McIntosh was in a bar in Siges in Barcelona on Saturday night when the government announced the immediate two-week quarantine for anyone returning from Spain to the UK.
The 42-year-old who lives in Peckham, London was on the last night of a two-week trip.
“All the phones went off in the bar we were in and everyone’s faces faded to grey,” James said.
“There was a lot of panic and everyone was trying to get an earlier flight – but of course there wasn’t any. It ruined the last night of our holiday.”
Mr McIntosh said he expected lose “in the region of £5,000 to £6,000” as he’s unable to run his small business – KnitMcIntosh.com – selling premium wool to customers in the UK.
Mum-of-two Michelle Reynolds, 48, said she paid £1,000 for a week-long family holiday with her husband Martin, 55, and sons Ben, 18, and Jamie, 13, in Salou on August 19.
She was told she can’t get a refund on her flights and will have to pay an extra £500 to reschedule for next summer.
“Myself and my husband can’t self-isolate, he’s an agency worker, he gets paid weekly and if he doesn’t work he doesn’t get paid,” she told The Sun Online.
“I work in catering at a special needs school, so I can’t work from home.”
Ms Reynolds, who lives in West Haddon, Northamptonshire, called on the government to help cover the costs of cancelled holidays.
“To be honest, the government need to step up here. We’re paying for the travel companies’ losses,” she said.
“We’re a working class family, we can only pay what we can afford. I work extra just to afford to go on holiday.”
Package holidays which are Atol protected will be refunded if the country is on the FCO’s no-go list, even if flights go ahead.
The Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) late last night updated its guide to advise against all but essential travel to the Canary and Balearic Islands.
This extends a ban placed on travel to mainland Spain put into place this weekend, and there are now fears France and Germany could be next.
France and Germany are still on the government’s list of countries you don’t have to quarantine from on arrival to the UK, but all Spanish holidaymakers have now been told to isolate on their return.
Ten Brits testing positive for coronavirus after returning from Spain sparked the new 14-day quarantine rule.
The unexpected quarantine announcement was made after England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty addressed Cabinet’s “Covid-O” committee.
The “clincher” that convinced senior ministers to introduce the quarantine was when they were told that 10 Brits had tested positive for the bug since July 1 after visiting Spain.
Prof Whitty said the number was “statistically significant” and that Covid-19 cases in Spain had jumped by 75 per cent.
“It was a small number but it was statistically significant enough to cause concern,” a source who was briefed on the meeting told the Telegraph.
There could be relief in sight for frustrated travellers who had their holidays thrown into chaos as the two week self-isolation is reportedly set to be cut by several days.
It is believed new plans are being finalised to lessen the sting of the restrictions now in place.
The Telegraph reports arrivals from high-risk countries could be tested eight days after landing for coronavirus, and if the results are negative they would be allowed to leave self-isolation.
It would potentially keep Brits returning from holiday in quarantine for just one week.
The new rule comes as health officials in Germany today admitted they are “very worried” about a deadly new spike in coronavirus cases.
According to the Robert Koch Institute – the state agency in charge of disease control – Germany has reported 633 new infections and four deaths in just 24 hours.
Germany has advised against all tourist travel to high-risk regions of Spain.
Travel firm TUI UK cancelled all holidays to the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands after the FCO’s updated travel advice.
TUI’s decision runs from today up to and including this Friday. Holidays to Spain’s mainland were were already cancelled from July 26 up to and including August 9.
“All customers due to travel to Spanish destinations between Sunday July 26 and Sunday August 9 will be able to cancel or amend their holiday and will be able to receive a full refund or the option to rebook their holiday with a booking incentive,” TUI UK said.
The company added: “The UK Government must work closely with the travel industry as this level of uncertainty and confusion is damaging for business and disappointing for those looking forward to a well-deserved break.”
Jet2 also said that it was cancelling flights to a raft of destinations in Spain from Tuesday after the FCO announcement.
The Prime Minister said the UK has to be “vigilant” regarding the threat of a second wave of Covid-19.
Mr Johnson said: “Where you can do local easing, then of course you should, but we’ll see what the review says.
“I have every sympathy with the views of the (mayor of Leicester Peter Soulsby) and local MPs, but we have to prioritise public health and apply simple common sense, and I think people also understand that.
“We’ll do everything we can in these tough times for businesses, for families, for people whose mental health has been affected by the lockdown, to give them the support that they need.”
He added: “The most important thing is for everybody in all communities to heed the advice, to follow the advice, not to be spreading it accidentally and get it right down, and we’ll be able to ease the restrictions across the country.
“But clearly we now face, I’m afraid, the threat of a second wave in other parts of Europe and we just have to be vigilant and we have to be very mindful.”
Spain has already admitted that a second wave may be underway, while experts have warned of a spike in Britain as the temperature drops.
An increase in cases of the deadly bug would then mean a second lockdown just as the economy begins to restart.
A senior member of The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said the virus is believed to “like” 4C – possibly explaining why it spread so quickly in February and March in the UK.
A top ally to Angela Merkel warned yesterday that Germany is already fighting against a second wave of coronavirus.
It’s thought millions of Brits will also have trips booked to countries not on the government’s air bridge list, which means they may struggle to get a refund unless they bought a package.
While you’ll still be covered under your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for any media issues faced, travel insurance policies are highly unlikely to cover you if you travel against FCO advice.
Many tour operators, including TUI, are cancelling trips as a result but whether you’ll get your money back depends on a number of factors.
Package tour operators, for example, are obliged under law to provide an alternative trip or a full refund if they cancel trips.
But it appears some travel providers are getting around this by continuing to operate holidays meaning it’s up to the passenger to cancel.
And if you cancel you won’t be covered by your insurance.
Similarly, if you’re travelling elsewhere on the continent but you’re worried about last-minute quarantine rules being imposed, you’re also unlikely to be able to claim on your insurance if you cancel yourself.
A separate issue is for passengers who didn’t book a package and who paid for separate flights and hotels.
In this scenario you’re not covered by package travel rules and this means you’re at the mercy of your hotel and flight operator for a refund.
This is proving a problem for those with trips to Spain as many airlines are continuing to fly despite government advice.
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “While almost all package holidays are now likely to be cancelled, airlines are ignoring the FCO’s travel warning and continuing flights to Spain, therefore refusing customers refunds.
“This forces customers to make an impossible decision on whether to fly or risk losing their money.”
You’re also unlikely to be able to claim from your card provider in this scenario as your accommodation and flights are still going ahead as planned.
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act credit card providers are jointly liable if retailers or service providers are unable to provide what you’ve paid for – so long as it cost between £100 and £30,000.
Similar rules called Chargeback also cover credit card purchases under £100 as well as debit card purchases but unlike Section 75 these aren’t written into law meaning you’re not guaranteed to get your money back.
Another issue is that even if your travel provider cancels your trip, any new travel insurance policies taken out or trips booked since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and therefore a known event, may exclude cancellation cover.
So it is important to check what you are and are not covered for.
In this scenario you should, however, be able to claim from your travel provider or card provider instead given you’re not getting the service you paid for.
See our round-up of the travel insurers that will cover coronavirus-related cancellations.