Coronavirus Travel Restrictions Advice
All information is correct at the time of writing, but information relating to the coronavirus is rapidly changing. Check the regularly updated website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and talk to your travel insurance and travel providers.
Before we start, I am not a doctor or a scientist. This Coronavirus travel restrictions advice is a guide. However, hopefully, it will point you in the right direction and answer your Coronavirus Covid-19 travel disruption questions.
Coronavirus Covid-19 travel information websites and resources
Coronavirus travel restrictions advice
As a rule, insurance providers, travel agencies and airlines take their cue from the Irish Government. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA) issue travel advice. This should be your first port of call when finding out about travel restrictions.
Coronavirus travel disruptions updates
The DFA advice is constantly changing so you need to keep checking the website to stay up to date. You can check the travel advisory of each country on the DFA website.
Coronavirus travel restrictions to Europe
At the moment there is a ‘Do Not Travel‘ advisory for Italy.
These European countries have ‘Avoid Non-essential Travel‘ advisories from the DFA – Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Malta, Poland, Spain and Slovakia.
Coronavirus travel restrictions to other countries
There are also ‘Avoid Non-essential Travel‘ advisories from the DFA for other countries. These are: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Iran, Laos, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Coronavirus travel disruptions – what are my travel rights?
I would like to direct to you the font of knowledge on these issues, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
If you go against the DFA travel advice, you risk invalidating your travel insurance policy.For example, if you go to Italy, you may not be covered.
If the advice is to ‘Avoid Non-Essential Travel’ and your trip is essential, some insurers may still provide cover.
However, terms and conditions for each travel insurance provider are different. So please carefully read the small print of your travel insurance policy.
Regardless of the DFA travel advice, you might not be able to travel to some countries because of their travel restrictions. There is currently no travel advisory for travel between Ireland and the USA but the United States has put its travel ban in place.
What do I do if an airline cancels my flight because of the Coronavirus
If the airline cancels your flight, the airline should be in touch via email or text with what to do next.
If the airline cancels your flight, they should offer a full refund.
EU Regulation 261 says passengers on cancelled flights may be entitled to have their journey either rerouted to the final holiday destination or refunded. Passengers with a cancelled land or sea journey are entitled to rerouting or a refund.
If an airline cancels your return flight, the airline has a duty of care to get you home.
Check the airline’s website first. The phone lines are currently jammers with long wait times. Do not call the helplines unless your flight is within the next 72 hours.
What about EU compensation for Coronavirus travel disruptions?
According to the European Consumer Centre Ireland (ECC Ireland), a natural occurrence such as COVID-19 that causes travel disruption is considered “extraordinary circumstances”. These are outside the control of a transport provider, such as an airline. Therefore, you are not entitled to compensation.
What do I do if I have booked travel to an area that’s now an official ‘Do Not Travel’ zone?
If you’ve booked to go to a country which the DFA advises against all travel to flights to these areas will be cancelled. All affected passengers should be entitled to a full refund.
If you have booked a package holiday through a travel agent or tour operator, it should be protected by ABTA or ATOL. You’ll have a right to a full refund or you can choose to rebook for another time.
If you booked accommodation, contact the providers directly as many have changed their cancellation policies in light of coronavirus. You might be offered a refund or allowed you to rebook for another time without incurring a fee.
What if I want to cancel my trip because of the Coronavirus?
If your trip is still scheduled to depart but you no longer want to travel because of coronavirus, unless your tickets already state otherwise, you are not entitled to a refund.
However, there is no harm asking the travel provider what your options are and contacting your travel insurer to see if you’re covered under your policy.
Usually, cancellation or disruption travel insurance cover will only come into effect when the DFA issues a ‘Do Not Travel’ or ‘Avoid Non-essential Travel’ advisory to an area.
Will my travel insurance cover Coronavirus disruptions?
If the Coronavirus has already disrupted your travel plans it’s worth trying your travel insurance provider for compensation.
Make sure you keep all travel receipts and invoices as you’ll need them if you do make a travel insurance claim. Also, make sure you know the timeframe from when you can make a claim. Some travel insurance providers have stipulations about when you can claim e.g. 48 hours before your travel date and up to 28 days after.
If you intend to travel, check with your provider before you go regarding what is covered with your policy. Some have stated that existing policies will not cover travel disruption due to coronavirus as it’s now considered a known risk.
What if I am quarantined because of the coronavirus while abroad?
Some insurance companies will cover the costs of getting you home if you miss your flights. Most companies decided these things on a case by case basis. Your airline might offer you an alternative flight for free. Again, you need to contact all your providers and find out what you are entitled to.
What do I do if I have just come back from travelling?
Minister for Health Simon Harris has requested that those returning from any part of Italy or Spain “restrict their movements for two weeks”. Basically, please stay at home and self-quarantine to reduce the risk of spreading Coronavisus COVID-19.
What do I do if I have a holiday booked for the summer?
My advice is to wait and see. No point in changing anything now especially if you have to pay a fee or lose your deposit if you cancel now. You never know, we might be able to travel by the summer! Here’s hoping.
Will my travel insurance still cover my future travel?
You need to check with your travel insurance provider before you travel.
Some travel insurance companies have stated that existing policies will not cover travel disruption due to coronavirus as it’s now considered a known risk.
How the Coronavirus is effecting my travel plans
I am due to fly to Austria on Saturday with Ryanair, but there is no DFA travel advisory in place. So, it is likely Ryanair will not cancel the flight unless the Austrian Government puts a travel ban in place.
My options are:
I can fly to Austria on Saturday. There are no restrictions on me doing so. However, I most likely will not be covered if anything goes wrong because of the Coronavirus. However, I am choosing not to travel during this time.
I can hold out and see if Ryanair cancels the flight if the DFA adds a ‘Do Not Travel’ or ‘Avoid Non-Essential Travel’ advisory. Then I can claim a refund or get travel credit that can be redeemed on Ryanair flights in the next 12 months.
I can change my Ryanair flight date without having to pay a flight change fee. Ryanair has waived its flight change fee for any travel between 13th and 31st March and for flights in April. However, you have to pay the difference between the two fares.
If I decide not to rebook I will not be entitled to any compensation or refund from my airline. However, I am entitled to a full refund of airport taxes if the cancellation takes place before the flight check-in operation. Although admin fees imposed by airlines can make these refunds pitifully small.
I also will not be entitled to any compensation from my insurance company. There is a clause in my travel insurance policy that will not pay out if I cannot make my trip because of “the fear of an epidemic, pandemic, infection or allergic reaction”.
Make sure you check your policy as you MIGHT be reimbursed depending on the type of cover you have. All policies are different.
Changing flights because of the Coronavirus
Ryanair is just one of many airlines that are waiving flight change fees in light of Coronavirus COVID-19. You need to check each airline’s website to find out what they are doing in terms of cancellations, reroutings and rebookings.
For a more comprehensive list of travel companies that are waiving change fees, have a look at The Travel Expert’s post entitled Coronavirus: Travel Companies Waive Change Fees.
Coronavirus and flights booked with Avios points
Just today I had to cancel my flights from Dublin to LAX with Aer Lingus. I booked the flights using a combination of Avios points and debit card.
I decided to cancel the flights myself rather than waiting for Aer Lingus to cancel the flight. There is no guarantee that Aer Lingus will cancel the flight and I wanted to make sure I lost as little as possible on the flights.
Using the chatbot facility on the Avios website I cancelled the outbound and return flights DUB-LAX-LAX-DUB out March 30th back April 10th. The chatbot connected instantly and I was all done in less than five minutes.
I was full refunded all my Avios points and my money however I did have to pay a €42.50 fee. A small price to pay for peace of mind.
There was no fee to make a one-time amendment to the booking. It would have been free for me to change the flights.
It also would have been free and I would have gotten a full refund of money paid and Avios points used if Aer Lingus cancelled the flights. But as I said, there is no guarantee that Aer Lingus will cancel the flights as flights are not banned to or from the USA as U.S citizens and other visa holders are allowed to travel.
Coronavirus travel restrictions to USA
For up to date information and advice regarding Coronavirus travel restrictions to USA consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
USA COVID-19 travel ban
Coronavirus travel restrictions to the United States take effect at 4 am Tuesday 17th March 2020 (midnight Eastern time). The Coronavirus USA travel restrictions will not apply to anyone aboard a flight to the United States that left before that time.
The travel restrictions will apply to all travellers who in the past 14 days have visited one of the prohibited countries.
The countries on the USA Coronavirus travel ban are Ireland, the UK and the 26 European nations that are part of the Schengen Area – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
US citizens, green card holders, permanent residents and certain categories of visa holders are exempt. The spouses, parents or siblings of American citizens or permanent residents, will also be exempt, as will members of the U.S. military and their spouses and children. Those entering America must re-enter through 13 designated airports where they will be screened. Anyone having been in the prohibited countries will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Coronavirus travel restrictions advice
Basically, if you have a trip planned in the next few weeks or months, you need to heed of the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and other relevant and official sources.
Airlines and tour operators are changing their terms and conditions in light of the Coronavirus and many are offering changes to change dates at no extra or minimal cost to you.
Should we be travelling during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic?
Prices have been cut across all areas of travel and tourism. There are great bargains to be had out there. No is the chance to arrange that dream holiday you could never afford.
However, there are so many risks to travelling right now and not just the obvious one of contracting coronavirus or spreading it to someone else.
Countries could shut their borders without warning. You could be left stranded with no way of getting home. If there is a way of getting out, you could end up paying an arm and a leg to do so and there is no guarantee that your travel insurance provider will cover your costs. If fact, you can kind of bet that they won’t.
There is nothing to stop you from travelling to places that are still welcoming tourists. However, you should apply a common-sense approach and weigh up all the possible risks. It may be prudent to protect yourself and others for the next few months.
Why not plan a staycation here in Ireland? There are some wonderful places to see and stay in this beautiful country. If you are looking for some inspiration, just have a browse around my site. You’ll find plenty of reviews of Irish hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and itineraries for a fab Irish vacation.
Thanks for reading
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